f'™ <>9''!S ' S' ^-B S ~
LI B RARY
THE AUTHOR OF "TEMPTATION, OR, A WIFE's PERILS,'
" THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES," ETC.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,
GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
F, Shoberl, Jan., Prioter to H.R.H. Prince Albert, Rupert Street,
WHOSE SINGULAR BEAUTY
IS BUT A SLIGHT INDICATION OF
A FAR MORE PERFECT DISPOSITION,
THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE DEDICATED
WITH SINCERE AFFECTION
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies ;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes.
One beautiful afternoon in April, as Lady
Lochmaben was driving her bijou of a pony-
carriage, with its cream-coloured ponies, know-
ing little grooms, and all its aristocratic
appurtenances, from Lady Truro's door in
Grosvenor Square, an old-fashioned, heavy-
looking travelling chariot rumbled up to it,
which certainly presented as great a contrast
to the miniature bauble whose place it pro-
ceeded to occupy, as did the dusty, stumpy,
VOL. I. B
2 EVELYN HARCOURT.
wizen-faced old man, denominated by courtesy
the postboy, to the handsome, showy Comitess,
with her profusion of ringlets, her splendid
lace veil, and her long whip en parasoL
Perhaps, Lady Lochmaben might be struck
with this herself, for she honoured the car-
riage and its occupants with a supercilious
stare of some moments, before, with a single
touch of her whip, she sent her thorough-bred
ponies flying along, to the admiration of the
In the mean time, the new comers were
proceeding to emerge from their old-fashioned
vehicle ; and the very fine gentlemen of Lord
Truro's establishment who condescended to
wear his livery, grow fat, and sneer at most
things for a certain sum yearly, were lazily
assisting their exit. The first of the tra-
vellers who emerged was a good-humoured
looking maid, fat, fair, and forty, who, having
first showered down a profusion of bread-
crumbs from her lap, descended with consi-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 3
derable emphasis upon the pavement, and
then, having proceeded to give herself a shake,
observed with a smile, that seemed directed
to the majestic butler himself — " Well ! I am
'' Is Lady Truro within ?" inquired a sweet,
clear, youthful voice.
" My lady is at home, ma'am. Her lady-
ship has been expecting you for an hour or
" Must I see her directly ? " whispered
Helen Eridge, as she rejoined her companion
on the steps. " Had not you better go to
her alone first ? I feel so much like an in-
But the hasty reply — " Nonsense, Helen !
you could not be so rude ! You are no more
an intruder than I am !" was uttered with
such vehement decision, that it seemed to
settle the matter at once ; and the quiet Helen
followed her less diffident companion through
the hall and up^ the broad staircase without
4 EVELYN HARCOURT.
further comment. In the space of a few mo-
ments they were in a richly-furnished boudoir,
opening into one of the most beautiful con-
servatories in London, and in the presence of
the admired and recherchee Lady Truro herself.
Nothing could possibly be imagined more
luxurious than this boudoir — nothing more
tasteful than its decorations, except, perhaps,
its fair inmate. It was hung with rose-
coloured silk, over which clear white muslin
was fluted. Mirrors encased in these dra-
peries served to heighten the brilliant effect
of the costly and rare objects the room con-
tained. On the marble console table were
vases of Sevres porcelain of enormous value ;
other specimens, chiefly of that exquisite
turquoise blue which is becoming every day
more rare, were scattered about; whilst a
marble statue of a child caressing a wounded
dove, by a celebrated sculptor, irresistibly
attracted the eye from all minor objects.
Beyond, through the half open doors, might
EVELYN HARCOURT. 5
be caught a glimpse of a long suite of rooms,
which were actually dazzling with the splen-
did decorations peculiar to the time of Louis
the Fourteenth, with those graceful cabriole
chairs and sofas, and fine marqueterie tables,
which so desperately put to shame our fright-
ful modern furniture. And added to all this
— to all that could dazzle the eye and charm
the fancy — came the sweet breath of flowers
from the adjoining conservatory, in the midst
of which hung a lamp of the most exquisite
shape and workmanship. In truth, it resem-
bled a fairy palace ; and it might well seem
one to the two youthful strangers who now
beheld it for the first time.
Lady Truro, a beautiful and graceful per-
son, rose as they entered, from the sofa, on
which she had been reclining. She welcomed
them with the utmost condescension, and was
all politeness and smiles. She was sorry and
glad just at the proper times, and about the
proper things; expressed becoming interest
6 EVELYN HARCOURT.
respecting their journey and posthorses; hinted
that she had stayed at home purposely to re-
ceive them; hoped that they would not be
too much fatigued to dine down stairs and be
introduced to Lord Truro, who had made a
point of dining at home for the purpose ; and
begged that they would consider themselves
completely chez elles, and make whatever use
of the servants they pleased. " Would they
like to have Deschamps now — her own maid ?
Deschamps was no doubt within, and could be
sent for immediately."
Helen murmured a timid refusal; but
Evelyn, to whom Lady Truro appeared chiefly
to address herself, was able to answer, with
little or no confusion of manner, that " they
wished for no Deschamps. Mrs. Hart, the
maid they had brought with them, would be
quite able to do all they required."
And Evelyn turned to admire the exquisite
Murillo which had been given to Lord Truro
lately during his Spanish excursion, with none
EVELYN HARCOURT. 7
of that feeling of overwhelming shyness which
was oppressing her more fearful companion.
She felt perfectly able to look about her, and
take note of every object ; and to her there
seemed nothing in the smallest degree calcu-
lated to inspire awe in the high-bred but
peculiarly feminine creature before them.
This absence of timidity was in a manner
natural to Evelyn. But there is something
very encouraging in the consciousness of
beauty ; and Evelyn Harcourt was as beauti-
ful a creature as ever illumined a visionary's
dream, or inspired a poet's verse. Hers was
indeed glorious beauty, the more striking from
its peculiar character. There w^as something
Asiatic in her magnificent eyes; something
almost regal in her lofty brow, and graceful,
swan-like throat. Her complexion was of that
clearest olive, so lovely, yet so rarely to be
met with in this country ; her features were
exquisitely moulded ; the mouth in parti-
cular, with its " short upper lip " and pout-
8 EVELYN HARCOURT.
ing under one, was a model in itself; and the
intellectual expression of her countenance be-
tokened a mind of no ordinary stamp. There
was something commanding in the tone of
her beauty, in the very glance of her eye,
which struck one at first sight ; it was not to
be mistaken. She was a being that must ex-
ercise a powerful influence over those within
her sphere — she was not one to glide through
life quietly and unobserved. Those dark,
lustrous eyes might sparkle now with joy and
eager anticipation, but there would come a
day when their beauteous mirrors might re-
flect back the fires of passion, and many a
fierce and strong emotion trouble those serene
depths ! To a being like her, one whose very
countenance was full of the loftiest and most
impassioned poetry, Love must come; and
what might not Love bring in its train !
Helen Eridge was altogether a different
creature. Slight, and rather below the com-
mon height, there was nothing in her appear-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 9
ance at all calculated to attract observation,
and she herself was little disposed to seek it.
She was pretty, certainly; with soft, dark,
gray eyes, and a fresh, English complexion ;
but she was so accustomed to be overlooked
ill the presence of her more lovely companion,
that she was little, if at all, aware of the per-
sonal charms she really possessed. Evelyn
was so beautiful ! so surpassingly beautiful I
Who could look at any other, whilst Evelyn
was by ? — It must be confessed, that very few
did ; and on the present occasion Lady Truro
was not one of the few. Her attention was
completely engrossed by the magnificent crea-
ture before her, so far more beautiful than
any description had led her to expect; and
poor Helen, with her retiring manner and un-
pretending appearance, w-as in that fragrant
boudoir almost as though she did not exist ;
whilst Evelyn had not been there five minutes
before the heart of Lady Truro, such as it
was, had opened to her, and visions of innu-
10 EVELYN HARCOURT.
merable proposals which such beauty must
command were floating before the dazzled
vision of the lady of the mansion.
" Look ! look, Helen!" cried Evelyn, seizing
her companion's hand, and eagerly drawing
her into the conservatory, whilst at the same
moment she untied the strings of her own
cottage bonnet, and by a rapid movement
divested herself of it, thereby disclosing to
view a head exquisitely formed as that of a
statue, round which the thick masses of jet
black hair were gracefully but almost care-
lessly wound. " Is not this delicious ? it re-
minds me of La Butte."
" La Butte ! and where is that ?" inquired
Lady Truro, as she cast an eye of mingled
admiration and envy upon the Spanish-looking
beauty before her.
" Oh ! a place near Naples, where we passed
some weeks ; but so beautiful ! so beautiful !
And it had a conservatory like this, only much
larger. See, Helen, what a cactus! — Oh,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 1
Lady Truro, how fortunate you are to pos-
sess such a paradise, and in the heart of Lon-
" It is not a very clean paradise, as you
may perceive," replied Lady Truro, laughing,
and pointing to the flakes of soot, which,
wonderful to say, respect not even the aristo-
cratic conservatories of Grosvenor Square.
" These plants have to be changed every
week; they would soon die here...." She
paused, arrested by the look of consternation
which Evelyn's face assumed.
" Changed ! oh, how sad ! I was hoping
to have the care of these flowers — I had those
at La Butte ; and I grow so fond of flowers
— so fond ! But if they are changed ..."
There was something so foreign in her
gesture and manner as she uttered these
words with almost childish simplicity, that it
seemed wonderful she should speak such pure
English. But there was certainly nothing
English in either her manner or appearance,
12 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Still less in the perfect ease, the singular
grace, that accompanied every movement,
every gesture — a grace as unstudied as her . ,r -c
" What a magnificent creature !" thought
Lady Truro to herself, as she repaired to her
own room to dress for dinner, after having
condescended to accompany her young guests
to theirs, in order, as she said, to satisfy her-
self that they had been made really comfort-
able. ** She will indeed create a sensation !
There is nothing in London to be compared
x\nd — " ^^^lat an amiable person Lady
Truro seems !" was the remark of Evelyn to
her companion, as she closed their door. " I
am sure I shall love her so much !"
Whilst Helen paused a moment before she
replied, thoughtfully —
" She is pretty and pleasing, certainly ;
but I should think her worldly."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 13
He learn'd his heart's first love to smother,
And — he is wedded to another.
And such is human life at best —
A mother's, a lover's, the green earth's breast;
A wreath that is formed of flowerets three —
Primrose, and myrtle, and rosemary —
A hopeful, a joyful, a sorrowful stave —
The cradle, the bridal-bed, and the grave.
We are reconcil'd. — Let him not ask our pardon :
The nature of his great offence is dead,
And deeper than oblivion do we bury
The relics of it.
Airs Well that Ends Well.
Evelyn Harcourt was an orphan. Her
father, the younger son of a country gentle-
man of very small fortune, had been sent into
the army at an early age, and informed, \vith
that candour with which unwelcome truths are
14 EVELYN HARCOURT.
very frequently imparted, that his father had
no fortune to give him, and that consequently
he must carve it out for himself with his sword.
Now, he had all the disposition in the world to
do so, but it is self-evident that, in order to
carve out anything, there must be something
to carve upon or through ; and, although in
his case the implement was not wanting, any
more than the disposition to use it, the oppor-
tunity was ; and, consequently, the prodigies
of valour of which his affectionate mother had
so often dreamed that he would prove the hero,
never assumed any shape, except in the visions
of her fond fancy. Of all the unlucky men
in the army, (and it must be confessed they
are not a few) he was one of the most un-
lucky. At thirty, he was a captain still, and
with little chance of ever rising higher. — Yet
at thirty he was not only anxious to marry,
but was actually engaged to the pretty but
penniless daughter of a country gentleman in
EVELYN HARCOURT. 15
His father was exceedingly indignant. In
his opinion, no younger son ought to marry
at all ; much less to dream of marrying with-
out money. Mr. Eridge, the young lady's
sire, too, was averse to the union on his daugh-
ter's account ; but he, being an affectionate
parent, whose object was not the wealth nor
aggrandizement of his children, but their hap-
piness, becoming convinced that that of his
daughter was really bound up in Captain Har-
court, at length gave his consent to the match,
provided the young couple would agree to wait
for the space of one twelvemonth, at the end
of which time she would have attained her
twentieth year. To this condition they were
obliged to consent ; and Captain Harcourt,
having obtained some months' leave of absence,
set off with a rich brother officer to Italy,
there to while away, as he best might, the
tedious moments that must separate him from
The year passed away, and with the new
16 EVELYN HARCOURT.
one came strange alterations to some, strange
sorrows to others. The gentle girl remained
constant and true, but he was false ! He
was not only changed in heart, but actually-
wedded to another !
At first, she would not believe it. She
struggled against every proof of his betrayal —
she refused to listen when they were repeated
to her. But, at length, even the trustingness
of her faith was overcome, and, once con-
vinced of the bitter truth, she had no alterna-
tive but to humble herself beneath the blow,
and seek to derive comfort from that saddest
of all convictions to those who have really
loved — the unworthiness of the loved one.
The person whom Captain Harcourt had
married was a Neapolitan lady, by whose sin-
gular beauty he had been speedily captivated.
The acquaintance had begun with no sinister
intention on his part. The idea of abandoning
his betrothed had never even entered his mind,
but by degrees the fascination of the beautiful
EVELYN HARCOURT. 17
Italian had bound him with a spell he found
it more and more impossible to break through;
and when at length he discovered that he was
beloved by her with that intensity and ardour
peculiar to her own glowing clime, he could
resist no longer. He married her without
even applying to his father for a consent,
which he well knew would be indignantly
refused, and was in consequence sternly for-
bidden by that father ever to appear in his
The beautiful Evelina, an orphan without
money, and almost without relations of her
own, followed him to England, and, with more
than the enduring tenderness of an English
wife, accompanied him through all his wan-
derings, submitting to the hardships and trials
of a position so new to her^ without even a
murmur, and making herself the admiration
of every one in the regiment. There was no
one, not even the commonest subaltern's wife,
not even a soldier of her husband's company.
18 EVELYN HARCOURT.
who had not a good word to say for the beau-
tiful Mrs. Harcourt — a smile to bestow upon
her loyely little girl. And when she died, at
length — died in giving birth to a son, who
survived her only a few hours — the feeling of
deep and universal sorrow that prevailed
proved how sincerely the stranger had been
From the hour of her death, her husband
became an altered man. She had been all in
all to him. Cut off from all intercourse with
his own connexions, disappointed in his hopes
of advancement in his profession, he had turned
to her as the only interest left to him in life.
In her he had ''garnered up his heart," audit
had never occurred to him that he could lose
her. Such an idea would have seemed to him
too dreadful to be entertained.
Much kindness was shown him by his bro-
ther officers. All sympathized with his loss —
all mourned as for a relation of their own ;
and the memory of that beautiful Italian was
EVELYN HARCOURT. 19
long and tenderly cherished by her English
After her death, the little Evelyn became
doubly the pet and favourite of all. With
her, life opened joyously indeed, and her
childish path was gay with flowers. Scarcely
ever did a harsh word or impatient reprimand
meet her ear ; epithets of tenderness, terms of
praise and of endearment, were the sounds to
which she was accustomed.
A gentle and beautiful child is an object so
universally engaging, that scarcely any one,
however selfish or morose, can refuse a word or
look of kindness to such a little being. And
it must have been a hard nature that could
scowl upon the'innocent glance of those large,
earnest eyes, or refuse a caress to the exqui-
site little cheek upturned to meet it.
At length. Captain Harcourt fell ill, and
for a time it seemed but too probable that the
poor little girl would lose her only remaining
parent. He rallied, however ; and as soon as
20 EVELYN HARCOURT.
he was conscious of the least symptom of re-
turning strength, he became importunate for
leave of absence, to try, as he said, the effect
of travelling about with his child.
By rapid journeys — far too rapid for one
in his weak state — he travelled into Wales ;
and, after many years, once more found him-
self beneath the roof of the man whose daugh-
ter he had so cruelly injured. And, when
the kind-hearted Mr. Eridge beheld his altered
countenance and listened to his hollow voice,
entreating forgiveness for the sorrow he had
inflicted, will it be wondered at that that for-
giveness was not denied, and that he was once
more welcomed within those hospitable walls
as he had been of yore ?
Mr. and Mrs. Eridge were the most ex-
cellent couple that can be imagined. They
seemed to exist but to do good and to love
one another. Simple and unpretending as
the peasantry that surrounded them, and by
whom they were held in the most profound
EVELYN HARCOURT. 21
veneration, they were as incapable of har-
bouring malice or resentment themselves as
they were of wilfully occasioning such feelings
in others. They had felt bitterly the afflic-
tion of their child at the time, it is true, and
had thought, not without deep indignation, of
the conduct of its author; but, when she had
married two years after a cousin of her own,
and they saw that the former wound was
healed, and that she was happy once more,
they forgot the man who had wronged her ;
or, if they thought of him at all, it was with
a benevolent hope that he might be as happy
as she was. They knew nothing of the death
of his wife ; indeed, they w^ere altogether ig-
norant what had become of him. But, at the
time of his unexpected arrival at Oriel, their
hearts were more than usually open to tender
and generous impressions. Their daughter had
lately died — died after nursing her husband
through that saddest of all diseases — con-
sumption ; and all they now possessed of their
22 EVELYN HARCOURT.
darling was the little orphan girl she had left,
who was just one year younger than Evelyn
Harcourt. It may well be supposed, there-
fore, that they could not again behold the
man their Helen had formerly loved, so sad-
dened and altered too, without strong emo-
tion ; and with their own simple kindness,
they welcomed him and his little one as
And when, soon after, poor Captain Harcourt
again fell ill, they nursed him with the ten-
derness of parents, and soothed the agonizing
anxiety of his dying moments by a solemn
assurance that they would cherish and pro-
tect his child— that their home should hence-
forward be her home, and that she should be
to them as a daughter.
And with a rare and beautiful fidelity this
promise was kept. The little Evelyn grew
up under their roof — the sharer alike of the
pleasures, the advantages, and the affection
they bestowed upon their own granddaughter.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 23
Their hearts knew no difference, and their
conduct evinced none.
But, as Evelyn Harcourt advanced in years,
her mind expanded with singular rapidity;
and she began to feel an insurmountable de-
sire to penetrate beyond the bounds of her
wild Welsh home. She pined with an earnest
and intense longing to behold the bright land
of her mother's birth — the glorious sun-lit
skies of Italy. The girl was more than half
Italian in her nature, and she had all the en-
thusiastic love for that classic land which is
so universal amongst its children.
The kind-hearted old couple sympathized
with her wish, for they thought it but natural
that she should long to see the spot of her
mother's birth and early recollections ; and,
for the mere purpose of indulging her desire,
they actually quitted their home, which they
had not left for many years, and cheerfully
entered upon the mighty undertaking (for
such it was to them) of a journey to Italy.
24 EVELYN HARCOURT.
As might be supposed, the adventures of
such a party, composed of individuals, each
more simple-minded and unsophisticated than
the others, were innumerable, and some of
them not a little ludicrous ; and many were
the laughs they occasioned, many the impo-
sitions practised upon " ces pauvres Anglais''
But still they went on their way, bearing the
same benevolent and happy hearts into a
foreiofn land that had animated them in their
own, and winning esteem by the influence of
their genuine worth and simple kindness.
There are some Italians at Naples who still
recollect the good old pair who used to take
their daily walk, arm in arm, along the
Chiaja, looking so thoroughly English and
respectable, and so evidently devoted to one
another. They had positively grown so much
alike, that they might have been taken for
brother and sister. Time indeed had scarcely
altered either of them in the sight of the
other ; he was still to her the Charles of her
EVELYN HARCOURT. 25
first, only love ; and in his eyes she was
scarcely less fair than when he had taken her
to his bosom years ago — his blushing, blue-
eyed Mary !
They remained two years at Naples — two
years of happiness to Evelyn, whose improve-
ment in every respect during that time was
almost magical. She associated with some
few Italians who had been friends of her
mother (for the memory of that mother was
still tenderly cherished at Naples), and here
the natural talent, the beautiful poetry of the
girl's mind, began to develop themselves. She
had a great disposition for music ; she com-
posed, with the utmost facility, both music
and English poetry, and possessed the rare and
enviable poAver of improvisation. When ex-
cited, and entering fully into her subject, her
performance was really extraordinary, not so
much from the power or genius of the verses
themselves, as from the harmony of the versi-
fication, its rapidity, and the exquisite melody
VOL. I. C
26 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of the acompaniment. This talent she m-
herited from her mother, who had possessed
it in a supereminent degree.
Evelyn was now eighteen, and Mr. and
Mrs. Bridge were meditating their return
home, when a letter arrived from the Mar-
chioness of Truro, a first cousin of Evelyn's,
inviting her to spend the ensuing season with
her in London. Lady Truro had made one
or two overtures of kindness before to her
young cousin, and she was the only one of
Evelyn's paternal family who had done so.
The Eridges had heard her spoken of at
Rome, where she had spent a winter, as a
most amiable and fascinating person, who,
although handsome and much admired, was
unexceptionable in her conduct. Evelyn was
all eagerness to be allowed to accept her in-
vitation, and what could Evelyn ask that they
could refuse her ? — The permission she longed
for was granted, at length ; not without con-
siderable hesitation indeed, for these excellent
EVELYN HARCOURT. 27
old people feared they knew not what from
the contamination of the world, and the adu-
lation her beauty must command ; still, they
felt it was but right she should see something
more of that world than could be viewed from
the Elizabethan windows of their own dear
Oriel ; and to enter it under such auspices
was an advantage they were not justified in
refusing for her. They wrote, therefore, to
accept Lady Truro's offer for their protegee ;
and Evelyn wrote also to accept it for herself.
But she contrived to introduce so much about
Helen and her own reluctance at parting from
her into her letter, that Lady Truro, who was
really good-natured in a certain way, wrote
back to invite Helen also for a few weeks to
Grosvenor Square, till Evelyn should have
become not only acquainted with her hostess,
but have learned to feel quite at ease with
The fact was. Lady Truro had heard from
some friends who had been lately at Naples
28 EVELYN HARCOURT.
reports of the great beauty and musical talents
of Evelyn Harcourt ; and she justly considered
that to befriend so attractive a creature could
do herself no possible harm, and might do
the poor girl very considerable good. If her
beauty were really what it was represented to
be, she must prove an ornament to any society,
and to introduce her into the fashionable
world of London could only entail additional
eclat upon herself. Evelyn might marry well
too ; — and Lady Truro, although her own
position by marriage was so pre-eminent, was
not so plentifully provided w^th aristocratic
connexions herself, as to consider with in-
difference the idea of a cousin of her own
becoming Duchess of R or Countess
of D !
Although she had heard much of Evelyn's
beauty and talent, however, she was far from
realizing in her own mind what either actually
was. She had pictured to herself an un-
formed country girl, handsome and clever
EVELYN HARCOURT. 99
indeed, but lamentably deficient in ton, and,
above all, in that indefinable grace and polish
which, in general, nothing but habitual inter-
course with really good society gives. She
anticipated no small trouble and difficulty in
teaching the young ideas of one who, till now,
had existed in a remote corner of Wales, and
who could have no possible experience of the
world — no savoir vivre whatever. She for-
got, perhaps, that, until she married, she too
had lived always in thecountry ;— and yet, in
how incredibly short a time had association
with men of a certain set like her husband
and his friends, and the influence of the
society to which her marriage had at once
raised her, taught her all that was necessary
to keep her, not only afloat, but actually
buoyant in the uncertain and treacherous sea
of fashionable opinion ! Who now so inva-
riably approved on all points as the lovely
Lady Truro ? — who more frequently quoted ?
— who more universally admitted to " con-
30 EVELYN HARCOURT.
naitre son monde f " But then she was blest
with unusual tact and cleverness — at least,
she thought so — and perhaps she was not very
far wrong ! —
EVELYN HARCOURT. 31
He was a mortal of the careless kind,
Who chose to go where'er he had a mind,
And never dreamed his lady was concerned.
...well dressed — well bred —
Lord Truro was good-natured, good-look-
ing, and extravagant. He had fallen despe-
rately in love with the pretty Barberina Har-
court, the only daughter of a poor Yorkshire
Squire, whom he had met at Doncaster Races ;
and, having no one to control him, no one's
consent to obtain but his own, he had speedily
proposed, and been of course yet more speedily
accepted. At first, they were not unhappy
together, that is, when they were together, —
for they were much more frequently apart.
He was on the Turf, and he was constantly
3^ EVELYN HARCOURT.
making excursions to Melton, and other places
where it was not his pleasure that she should
accompany him ; and, when they were in
London, his pursuits, his clubs, and the society
of his roue friends, with certain other inter-
ests, so engrossed him, that he found little
time to bestow upon his wife. But, with re-
gard to this, as well as many other things, she
had very wisely pris son parti. He was liberal
to her ; he allowed her perfect freedom in all
ways, and she felt bound to do the same by
him. Her marriage had not been one of love,
but of ambition ; and the position to which
it had raised her had amply gratified the
latter passion ; she could, therefore, afford to
dispense with the former. In the mean time,
her own conduct, and her demeanour in so-
ciety, were unexceptionable. Admired and
feteed as she was, not the most censorious
person could find a word to say against the
beautiful Lady Truro. Nobody was more
fond of, nobody more eager to attract, general
EVELYN HARCOURT. 83
admiration, but she invariably discouraged
any particular display of it ; and, though some
people called her proud, and a great many
exceedingly heartless, yet every one was
ready to admit that, considering Lord Truro's
shameful neglect of her, and his excesses of
all kinds, which were too notorious for her
not to be aware of them, there really was no
small merit in her unexceptionable conduct ;
and that few women, under her circumstances,
would have behaved half so well.
Lady Truro was, in fact, a person capable,
under more favourable ones, of becoming an
amiable, perhaps even a superior character.
But there is something so debasing in per-
petual intercourse with the fashionable world,
properly so called, especially when its objects
are made the principal ones in life, that
the tone of every mind must end in being
lowered by it. A life of perpetual excite-
ment, at best of a frivolous kind, often
worse than frivolous — the impossibility of
34 EVELYN HARCOURT.
anything like leisure or quiet reflection — the
constant competition — the jealousy — the un-
due importance attached to those adventitious
advantages which we know in the sight of
God to be of none — all these cannot fail to
affect, more or less, those who are exposed to
them ; though some few who bear about with
them the charm of a principle that is above
the world may be able to view its follies with
regret, without partaking in their intoxication.
But such instances are rare.
In a few days, Evelyn Harcourt was com-
pletely domesticated in Grosvenor Square,
and there seemed every prospect that Lady
Truro and she would become bosom friends.
The young girl was enchanted with everything
around her. To her the whole world seemed
bright and happy, for her spirit was full of hope
that had never yet known disappointment;
enthusiasm that had never yet been chilled.
Experience with her had hitherto been only joy,
and she looked on all things with enchanted eyes.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 35
Ah ! how happy, how beautiful, is this
freshness of the spirit ! Why does it disappear
so soon ? Why does a mist come over all that
seemed bright and pure before ? Or, at least
why, whilst yet possessing it, are we so un-
conscious of the treasure ?
In the mean time, Helen Bridge gazed around
with a soberer eye. She had more leisure,
indeed, for quiet observation ; fewer dazzling
circumstances to obscure her judgment. In
this house, where her companion was so cor-
dially welcomed, her own presence seemed to
be in a manner forgotten. Lady Truro was
polite, indeed, when they met ; kind even, as
far as it was in her nature to be, to one so
wholly uninteresting to herself; and Evelyn
was tender and affectionate as ever whenever
they were together ; — but Evelyn's time was
now so much taken up with Lady Truro, that
all quiet intercourse between the girls seemed
to have ceased.
Helen felt sad at heart ; sad to think that
36 EVELYN HARCOURT.
the friendship of years should so soon be in-
terrupted — for interrupted she saw it must
be. Evelyn would soon be immersed in new
objects, new interests ; the attractions of the
world would have their weight, and the com-
panion of her childhood would most probably
be forgotten ! Poor Helen ! She tried hard
to accustom herself to this idea, repeating to
herself constantly that it was only natural —
only what was to be expected in the common
course of events ; but still she could not re-
concile herself to the prospect. The tears
would spring to her eyes when she thought of
Evelyn estranged from her, meeting her again
with an altered heart, perhaps even a patro-
nizing manner, like Lady Truro's ; for, in spite
of Evelyn's incessant eulogiums and enthu-
siastic admiration of her cousin, Helen still
thought that cousin worldly, and her manner
Notwithstanding Helen's timidity and dif-
fidence, her observations were acute, and her
EVELYN HARCOURT. 87
judgment remarkably clear. Utterly ignorant
of the world and its vices, she yet had shrewd-
ness and penetration sufficient to enable her
to foresee many evils for Evelyn in the cir-
cumstances that surrounded her. She disliked
the tone of Lord Truro's conversation, and
the flippant manner in which he seemed to
insinuate, more than openly express, ridicule at
everything noble and good. He did not ac-
tually laugh at religion, indeed, but she felt
sure that he was not deterred from doing so
by any religious principle or feeling of his
own. Little did he suppose, as he occasionally
addressed a remark to the silent girl, who
seemed too listless and supine to care even
about the favourite at Ascot, that she was
internally making very accurate observations
upon his character, and thinking to herself
that not even to be a Marchioness, with all
appliances and means to boot, could she be
happy with a man whom she could not re-
38 EVELYN HARCOURT.
And yet Lord Truro was good-natured;
and he had taken quite a fancy to Evelyn
Harcourt, for "she had some spirit — some
sense ! In the first place, she was so d — 1-sh
handsome ! she had a better figure even than
Nina's, and her eyes were positively splendid.
Then she had declared she was dying to go to
Ascot ; and she had gone into raptures about
his new cab horse ! — There was really some
sense in Evelyn Harcourt !"
"Oh, Helen ! is that you?" cried Evelyn,
as her friend entered her room one morning —
a room adjoining Lady Truro's dressing-
room — " I am so glad you are come ! — Look
at my dress ! is it not lovely ? — a present of
dear Lady Truro's !"
" Beautiful ! — and that is for the King's
" Yes ; won't it be charming ? How I
wish you were going too !"
" Lideed, so do not I, dearest Evelyn. I
EVELYN HARCOURT. 39
have no wish to go ; and by that time I shall
be far away — far away from you !" —
" Far away ! how ? where ? You are not
going yet ?"
" On Tuesday. I have written to grand-
mamma to say that I shall set out on Tues-
" Oh, Helen, you don't say so !" cried
Evelyn, suddenly throwing down her beautiful
dress on the bed, with an utter disregard to
the delicate trimmings she had almost feared
to touch the instant before. " What shall I
do without you ? — ^you will not go !"
And the large dark eyes filled with
tears, as she threw her arms round Helen's
*' Yes, dearest," said Helen, returning her
caress with emotion, " I must go, indeed. I
am wanted at home, you know, and here you
will have plenty to occupy and amuse you
without me. I am only in the way ; I feel it
more every day. Lady Truro is very kind,
40 EVELYN HARCOURT.
but I am sure she wishes me gone. It is as
evident as possible."
" How can you say so, Helen ? — it is not
like yourself. You are quite prejudiced
against Lady Truro — I cannot think why."
" Indeed I am not. I like her for loving
you, but... in short, we will not discuss it, but
I have made up my mind to go on Tuesday,
and I am sure I am right in my decision."
Evelyn sat down, and burst into tears. '* I
shall have no pleasure in anything when you
are gone," sobbed she.
These tears were balm to Helen's heart.
They showed that at present at least Evelyn's
** You will promise still to love me, and
often write to me," said she. " All these fine
people interest me very little for themselves,
I confess, but, as connected with you, they
will become interesting. You will not let
them estrange you from me, my Evelyn — you
will still trust me as heretofore ?"
EVELYN HARCOURT. 41
" Oh, Helen, my sister, my darling ! do not
talk so ! — Estranged ! As if I ever could be
estranged from you !"
" They say the world makes great changes,
Evelyn ; but if it should make you selfish or
cold-hearted, it would spoil a beautiful nature.
Be on your guard, however; and, above all,
do not let any one laugh you out of your love
for what is good. Think of our dear parents
—of their goodness, their pride in you ; and
how they have ever encouraged us both to
love what is noble, and simple, and pure.
Alas ! they would have little in common with
such a world as this ! I sometimes think, if
they could suddenly be transported here — into
this fine house — among all these fashionable
" They would be quizzed, I am afraid !"
said Evelyn, mournfully.
" They would ; — despised, with all their
goodness !...But then, Evelyn, I remember the
end !...T\iQXQ must be an end for all; — and,
42 EVELYN HARCOURT.
supposing it to be satisfactory now to fritter
away one's life as these people seem to me to
be doing, it must be unsatisfactory to look
back upon afterwards !"
" I think I shall return to Oriel," said
She paused — and, half turning round, sur-
veyed her dress —
"To be sure, Lady Truro has been very
kind... very kind — and I am sure she loves
EVELYN HARCOURT. 43
Round her she made an atmosphere of life :
The very air seemed lighter from her eyes —
They were so soft — so beautiful — and rife
With all we can imagine of the skies.
.... All the world desires her —
they come to see fair Portia.
Merchant of Venice.
.... Know'st thou the youth ?
Evelyn did not return to Oriel, although
her friend departed the next Tuesday, as she
had resolved to do, and, for the first time in
her life, Evelyn knew what it was really to
grieve. She felt a weight upon her heart — a
suffocating sensation in her throat, as the
moment of parting approached, which she
could neither account for nor overcome ; and
44 EVELYN HARCOURT.
when at length Helen tore herself away from
the arms that still endeavoured to retain her,
Evelyn felt as if the bitterness of a whole life
were concentrated in that one moment of over-
But though her grief was keen at first, it
soon subsided. Her feelings were acute, when
roused; but, as is generally the case with
ardent dispositions, their very violence speedily
exhausted itself. In a few days, she was as
ready as ever to be charmed with all the
dazzling novelties that surrounded her, and to
enter keenly into every project for amuse-
ment, every interest of Lady Truro's. That
lady seemed to think she could never do
enough to show kindness to her young pro-
tegee. Delighted to possess so amiable and
yielding a companion, charmed with her
beauty, and flattered by her earnest admira-
tion for herself, she overwhelmed her with
attentions and proofs of regard, irresistible
from one in her position to a girl like Evelyn,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 45
fresh, unsophisticated, and warm-hearted as
she was. Evelyn could not see the shadow of
a fault in Lady Truro, and had any one then
accused her of selfishness, she would have
rejected the imputation with anger ; for what
could be less selfish, less worldly, than her
conduct towards herself?
Evelyn was now in a perpetual state of
rapturous excitement. One pleasure suc-
ceeded another with such rapidity, that she
sometimes felt almost fatigued with their
excess, and was conscious of a wish that she
could pause, as it were, for a time, and enjoy
herself more at leisure.
But a greater excitement than all was ap-
proaching; and never did young lady just
released from the iron rule of the school-room,
and panting for the freedom which she believes
can be conferred only by " a name and by a
ring," look forward with more intense expecta-
tion — more eager delight — to her first appear-
ance in society, than did this simple-hearted
46 EVELYN HARCOURT.
girl, in whose dreams (and they had been many
and bright) the idea of making a good match,
as it is called, had never even entered !
At the next Drawing-room, she was to be
presented, and the approaching court ball was
to witness her debut. Oh ! what consultations
between Lady Truro and Mamselle Anna,
respecting her dress and appearance, and then
between Lady Truro and her own maid !
What deliberations ! What exclamations !
What flattery ! One would have thought the
fate of the nation depended upon the colour
of a ribbon, or the choice of a silk ! And all
for one to whom Nature had been so lavish in
her gifts, that Art could do nothing — posi-
tively nothing — to enhance them ! The utmost
one could hope was, that it might not in any
way mar what was already so perfect. Even
Deschamps could not help observing at last,
when poussee a bout by the incessant journeys
up and down stairs, and the innumerable re-
quests for her opinion about this dress and the
EVELYN HARCOURT. 47
Other trimming which the new comer occa-
casioned, ''Mais, miledi, que veiit-elle done?
Qu'est ee que ^afait, que fa soit broche ou uni,
avec une figure semblable f On croiroit bien
que Mademoiselle fut laide /"
There were no fond parents to gaze with
conscious pride upon Evelyn's exquisite face
and faultless figure when arrayed for the pre-
sence of her Sovereign — no troops of admiring
cousins hurrying to see her dressed for court —
no soldier-brother, stiff and cross in his uni-
form, and ready to vote the whole concern of
the Drawing-room a bore, to soften as he
gazed upon her, and at length relax into a
smile of proud delight at possessing so beauti-
ful a sister. Evelyn had none of these. Even
her own Helen and her good old parents were
not there to be gratified by her appearance ;
but amongst those who did see her there was
but one opinion ; and in Lady Truro's smiling
exclamation, " Well, Evelyn, I will undertake
to say that you will see no one to-day to
48 EVELYN HARCOURT.
compete with yourself," and Deschanips' short
aside to Mademoiselle Anna, '' Ma foil faut
avouer qu'elle est divine comme fa /" and Lord
Truro's expressive start, and almost involun-
tary exclamation, " By George, how lovely !"
the same spirit of admiration was sufficiently
Evelyn Harcourt did indeed look peerlessly
beautiful that day — the first of her introduc-
tion and her triumphs ! Even Royalty itself
contributed its share to the intoxication of the
hour, and the first voice in the realm was heard
to pass a strong eulogium on her beauty.
From that hour, she entered an atmosphere
of adulation that was sufficient to turn many
a wiser head than hers. From that hour,
she became the fashion — the Beauty, par
ea^cellence, of the season — the wonder whom
all talked about — raved about — longed to
Lady Truro was in Paradise ! Her expec-
tations had been great, but the reality infinitely
EVELYN HARCOURT. 49
surpassed them, and her love for her young
cousin increased in proportion with her suc-
cess, and the eclat she reflected upon herself.
Nothing in all the annals of London fashion
ever surpassed the sensation the young beauty
created that year. No party, however bril-
liant or exclusive, was considered perfect un-
less she were present. At the Opera, a stranger
might wonder what occasioned almost every
glass in the house to be so frequently directed
towards one particular box in the dress-tier,
till a glimpse at the exquisite face it contained
suddenly explained the mystery; and many
an unfortunate girl in a ball-room, when in-
wardly lamenting the destruction of her fresh
trimmings by the sudden crush that over-
whelmed her, would be told by her partner
that it was only the beautiful Miss Harcourt's
arrival that occasioned the pressure, and would
then be dragged still further into the crowd,
that he might catch a glimpse of her peerless
VOL. I. D
50 EVELYN HARCOURT.
All London talked of her! All London
raved about her ! At crowded dinner-parties,
her charms formed alike the conversation of
the grave cabinet minister, and the timid de-
butante. People manoeuvred for an intro-
duction to her as they had never manoeuvred
before, and the sight of the Truro livery
amongst the equestrians in Hyde Park created
a general buzz, that proceeded from party to
party. — " Here comes the Beauty !" — " 'Pon
my soul, yes ! That's Truro's bloodmare !" —
" What, Miss Harcourt! where, oh, where?
I'm dying to see her !" — " There, on the left,
riding beside Lady Truro !" — " Haverfordwest
is next to her !" — " Yes, Haverfordwest is
making up to her furiously !" — '' But it won't
do, mark my words !" — *' Well, she is lovely,
I must say...."
Lady Truro was a judicious chaperon. She
was as select and exclusive for Evelyn as it
was possible to be for any one, and two-thirds
EVELYN HARCOURT. 51
of the invitations forced upon them were sys-
tematically refused. Evelyn must not appear
too often; she must not make herself too
common ! Once hacked about and paraded
at every ball, like any other beauty, both her
freshness and her fame would soon be on the
wane. It was rather a privilege now to get
a sight of her — the greatest to be admitted to
her acquaintance. To obtain the entree of
Lady Truro's coterie was considered a far
greater distinction than to frequent Almack's.
Doubtful or objectionable people were known
sometimes to penetrate there, even in those
exclusive days ; but no one that was doubtful
or objectionable ever found their way within
Lady Truro's doors.
All the greatest and most desirable partis
of the day were, of course, assiduously culti-
vated, and that lady made it a matter of pride
that none but the most brilliant matches should
be even submitted to her fair cousin. She
was not without hopes that, young as Evelyn
mmRswi OF iLUMois
52 EVELYN HARCOURT.
was, she might jet marry this year. There
were two or three devoted swains who, as she
believed, wanted nothing but a little encou-
ragement to speak out ; amongst whom were
the Duke of Shetland and Lord Haverford-
The Duke of Shetland was good-looking
and agreeable, and he had of course been shot
at by all the beauties, and manoeuvred for by
all the mammas, since the time when he had
been fortunate enough to emancipate himself
from that part of the aristocratic dress of his
own mother by which her apron was attached.
Even his very holidays had been struggled for
and sought after, when his hobbedyhoy Grace
was honouring Eton with his idleness and
ducal frolics ; for such things have been known
as the childish loves of a boy and girl being
renewed when they are older ; and at the
worst, it can never be a disadvantage for a
young lady to be on sisterly terms with a
EVELYN HARCOURT. 53
But his Grace of Shetland had hitherto
resisted all nets, all attractions ! he had nei-
ther married one of his schoolfellow's sisters,
nor wished to marry his own sister's gover-
ness ; and he had been not a little scandalized
at the match his friend Truro had made, of
whose sense and judgment he had fondly en-
tertained a far better notion, than to imagine
he would be caught by a penniless Miss Har-
court, of Yorkshire, whom nobody out of that
county had ever even heard of. In his opi-
nion, it was a piece of particular maladresse
to marry early. Wives, at the best, must
always be bores, however independent one
might be of them. There was always the
chance that they might take upon themselves
to know something they had no business to
know — perhaps even to advise or remon-
strate ; and a remonstrating wife who would
bear ? Then there was the trouble of looking
after them, for they must be looked after, to
say nothing of the nuisance of having a cub
54 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of a son growing up into manhood, long
before his unlucky father required to dye a
single hair !
But, alas for the inconsistency of human
nature ! Although the Duke so unsparingly
condemned his friend for the step he had
taken, he was now blindly treading in the
very same steps himself, and not only ad-
miring a Miss Harcourt, but actually thinking
of marrying one too ! His folly was equal to
There was something so new, so peculiar in
Evelyn's exquisite loveliness, so unlike any
thing that had appeared before in London, in
his time at least, that he felt himself irre-
sistibly attracted towards her. She was so
natural ! she had such a keen relish for the
pleasures which others pursued — not as plea-
sures, but as mere means to an end ! She
had no end, no aim, but to enjoy herself ! Her
mind was clear and limpid ; you might look
through it, and perceive no thought of guile.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 55
It was refreshing to talk to her, to gaze upon
her. The eye, the heart, felt that sensation
of satisfied repose, which is produced even to
the most worldly, the most biases; and some-
times peculiarly to them, by the beautiful
power of Nature's own truth.
This love of the natural and true is not
easily extinguished in our hearts ; even those
who possess it the least themselves, some-
times value it the most in others. He who
has had the most experience of the world -
liness and insincerity of women, the best
cause to know them well, is precisely the one
who makes choice of the most simple and
unsophisticated girl for his wife. He values
such qualities in proportion with what he
knows to be their rarity. And the reason
why we prove so frequently wrong in our
speculations for the matrimonial choice of
our friends is, simply, that we too often judge
from the past experience the former pre-
ferences of those friends. If a man have
56 EVELYN HARCOURT.
been an ardent admirer of beauty, we pro-
phecy that he will be caught by some pretty
face ; or, if he have always paid particular
homage to genius, we feel certain he will be
captivated by a woman of mind. If he have
always been devoted to married women, we
determine that he will choose a person of a
certain age, a woman of the world — perhaps,
a jointured widow! Yet these speculations
most often turn out to be totally wrong, and
it is easy to account for it. The disadvan-
tages too frequently inseparable from beauty,
learning, and worldly wisdom, are best known
to those who have seen the most of them;
and often the very qualities that a man most
seeks for and prizes in the lady of his bachelor
worship, are precisely the last he would wish
to bring within the sanctuary of his home !
'' Oh ! do tell me," said Evelyn, one even-
ing, suddenly raising her magnificent eyes
and fixing them full on the Duke of Shetland,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 57
who was, as usual, in attendance upon her in
Lady Truro's opera-box, " who was that gen-
tleman Lord Mersey was talking to when we
met you to-day in the Park ? "
" That gentleman ! — how can I hope to
answer such a question ? Were we not talk-
ing to several ? I know, I interrupted young
Howard in the midst of one of his endless
stories when I perceived you" . . .
" This gentleman rode away as we came
up. I have seen him several times before,
and I have the greatest possible curiosity to
know who he is."
" Happy man, to excite the notice, the
curiosity of Miss Harcourt ! Who can he be ?
But I will strive not to think of him — it is
more than I am equal to ! "
" That is not the way to make me think of
him less, if woman's curiosity be what it is
described to be ! You had better gratify
" Was it De Benyon ? a handsome fellow,
58 EVELYN HARCOURT.
with dark hair — young De Benyon, of the
*' Oh dear, no ! I know him. Not the
" Then I cannot imagine."
" You mean, you are resolved not to
" Far from it ; you wrong me. I am rather
of a generous turn, I believe, and I would
willingly prove it in this instance, especially
as I consider you in a manner pledged, if I
discover the name of your hero, never to
bestow another thought upon him."
" No, no !" cried Evelyn, laughing, '' I will
make no such promise. I have not bestowed
many thoughts upon him as yet, but if I
•should see him again, I cannot pledge myself
not to think that that is the man !"
" What a position do you place me in !"
cried the Duke, with a gesture of mock de-
spair. " You ask me the name of a he, who
rode away as you appeared — sufficient proof
EVELYN HARCOURT. 59
to my mind that he was a he of no taste ; and
yet you" . . .
" There he is, I declare ! " cried Evelyn
eagerly, " in Lady Fitzarthur's box ! He is
just come in — there — looking at the stage !
Now, who is he ?"
" That ! You do not mean that you don't
know Sherborne ? Impossible !"
*' And why? Does it argue oneself un-
known not to know him ?"
" Why, almost. A man of his notoriety !
his eminence !"
" Is that then the author of ' Nina' and
' Retrospections,' and that wonderful play
that all the world is raving about ?"
" Even so. And wherefore not ?"
Evelyn's eyes were fixed intently on the
opposite box, and she paused a moment before
she replied, with a perplexed air —
" I was told he was a ... a middle-aged
The Duke could not refrain from laughing.
60 EVELYN HARCOURT.
*' He was said to have written the comic song
called ' The middle-aged man,' " said he, at
length ; " but whoever cast such an impu-
tation upon him as to call Jiim one, must have
fancied himself the original of that song, I
suppose, and so sought to revenge himself
upon its author. Perhaps, however, you would
call me a middle-aged man ? Sherborne is two
or three years my junior !"
" Hush, hush !" cried Evelyn, putting her
finger on her lips, " here is Malibran"...
The opera was one of Evelyn's greatest
pleasures, not only for the sake of the bril-
liant coup d'ceil it afforded, nor yet for the
pleasure to which she was, however, by no
means insensible, of being the " observed of
all observers," but for the exquisite delight
the music occasioned her. She was one of
the few, the very few, in that brilliant assem-
blage, who really desired to listen in silence
to every note ; and how many enthusiastic
feelings, how many fairy visions, were con-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 6 1
jured up by her vivid fancy within the narrow
bounds of Lady Truro's opera-box ! Music
had always a powerful charm for her — it
raised her for a time into a world of her own,
a heaven of beauteous and inspiring dreams !
That night, the opera was " Semiramide,"
one of her greatest favourites, and almost
every air of which she knew by heart. The
performance of it, however, was doomed to
be unexpectedly interrupted. Malibran, who
a short time before had broken her elbow,
and still wore her arm in a sling, was ob-
served to be not in her usual force, and when
the second act commenced, and she had to
appear on the stage, she advanced with a slow
and faltering step, which was very unlike her
habitual manner. Twice the symphony was
played, and still she made no attempt to sing.
At length, after rocking herself backwards and
forwards for a few moments, suddenly, to the
consternation of all, she fell flat upon the stage,
without a sign of life ! There was a, stifled
62 EVELYN HARCOURT.
shriek throughout the house, and Evelyn
shuddered and turned pale. To her it seemed
impossible that the unfortunate actress could
survive that fall — so heavy, so apparently
stunning! Of course, she was instantly re-
moved, the curtain fell, and the performance
was for the time suspended. Then there was
a rush of young men behind the scenes to
ascertain the cause of the catastrophe ; and
there were not wanting some who declared it
was all a sham of hers, got up out of spite to
Laporte, who had in some way affronted her,
and that she was now laughing immoderately
at the success of her trick. Whether this
were or were not true, Laporte soon came
forward to announce that her illness would
prevent her from appearing again that night,
and an act from another opera was shortly
But Evelyn's spirits were damped by this
occurrence. That sudden, fearful fall was
still before her eyes, and she still seemed to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 63
hear the shriek that had resounded through
A feeling of nervousness had crept over
her, which she could not shake off, and she
felt relieved when Lady Truro, herself not
well, proposed going home early. As she
rose to depart, however, she could not refrain
from casting one hasty glance at Lady Fitz-
arthur's box. Only two persons were visible
there — Lady Fitzarthur, and her sister. Miss
Brownlow. The " middle-aged man " had
64 EVELYN HARCOURT.
.... for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish.
.... Yet for you
I would be trebled twenty times myself;
A thousand times more fair ....
That only to stand high on your account . . .
.... But the full sum of me
Is an unlessoned girl — unschooled — unpractised.
Merchant of Venice.
.... 'tis a hall
Where people dance, and sup, and dance again.
Evelyn felt a greater desire than she could
account for to herself to make the acquaint-
ance of Arthur Sherborne. There had been
something about him, an expression in his
countenance that had struck her even before
she knew who he was ; but now — now that
she knew him to be the author of poetry which
had always seemed to her the most exquisite
EVELYN HARCOURT. 65
she had over read, and works of fiction which
had become celebrated throughout Europe,
she did indeed feel eager to ascertain whether
that lofty genius betrayed itself in common
life ; whether any of the exquisite and inspiring
thoughts with which his works abounded
found their way into his ordinary discourse.
If they did, what a privilege to be admitted
to his acquaintance !
The morning after the opera, Lady Truro
found her with a whole pile of his works, which
she had collected from the library, before her ;
readino^ over and over a^ain some of the most
beautiful parts of them. It appeared to her
that she had never till now fully appreciated
their merits ! The sight of the author had
done more to open her eyes than half a dozen
of the most partial reviews could have done.
She felt elated to think she had seen him —
inconceivably eager to see him again.
" Oh, do you not delight in his poetry?"
cried she, pointing to the open volumes, as
66 EVELYN HARCOURT.
her cousin exclaimed with surprise at her un-
usual occupation, '' I have always been so
fond of it !"
*' He ought to be flattered, I am sure !"
replied Lady Truro. " It is a pity he cannot
see you now, with this heap of books before
you ; I question whether he ever received a
greater compliment He might not feel it so,
however," she added, after a pause. " He is
very singular — very reserved — very fastidious."
*' Fastidious ! no wonder !"
" And he avoids fresh introductions. /
might have been acquainted with him. Sir
Aubrey Harcourt once offered to bring him
here indeed (they are great friends), but I am
not without my pride in my own way, and I
choose to be sought by — rather than to seek
— even Lions ! I had no reason to suppose
the gentleman wished to know me, so I de-
termined not to put myself out of the way
to know him. I rather discouraged the idea
of his coming, and he never came ! — "
EVELYN HARCOURT. 67
" Oh! what a pity !" cried Evelyn earnestly.
** Surely a man like him one would wish to
know on any terms."
" Do you think so, my love ? If you wish
to know him, you may easily do so. You
have but to give a hint to the Duke or Lord
Haverfordwest; either of them could easily
manage it !"
" What ! if he is so fastidious ?"
Lady Truro smiled almost contemptuously.
" I do not imagine he would be fastidious with
you, my dear."
Evelyn was astonished to find how con-
stantly this Mr. Sherborne was in her thoughts.
Wherever she went, she detected herself on
the look-out for him ; whatever she were doing,
the idea of him in a short time presented it-
self. He seemed to have suddenly bewitched
She saw him no more, however, for some
days ; and she was beginning to despair of
68 EVELYN HARCOURT.
ever seeing him again, when an invitation
arrived to a ball at L House, where every
one distinguished for beauty, fashion, or for
high literary talent, was sure to be assembled.
There she might see him — there he might
possibly condescend to go ; and almost with-
out being conscious of it, she paid far greater
attention to the details of her toilet than was
her wont, and was less inclined than usual to
be satisfied with its results.
Before they had been five minutes in L
House, they were joined by the Duke of Shet-
land, who had a way of making a kind of pro-
perty of Evelyn, and affichemg his attentions
to her in public, which delighted Lady Truro,
and made her augur well for the result. She
was beginning indeed to make pretty sure of
him for her young cousin, provided no pains
were taken — no anxiety betrayed to bring
matters to a point. The very day previous,
she had said to Lord Truro, during the single
half hour he had condescended to bestow upon
EVELYN HARCOURT. 69
her, ^^ I think Evelyn will marry the Duke !
Nothing was ever like his attention !" — to
which her lord had replied in the intervals of
humming a favourite air of the last new ballet,
" Take my advice, Barberina, and don't you
and Miss Evelyn be too ready to lay that flat-
tering unction to your souls. When Shetland
tells me he is going to marry her, I will
believe it !— till then Good by !— I'm off!"
But, in spite of this warning, Lady Truro
did still continue to lay the flattering unction
to her soul. As for Evelyn — but we will not
anticipate her feelings.
" By the by, Miss Harcourt, * the middle-
aged man ' is here to-night," said the Duke ;
" and I told him how much your curiosity
was excited about him the other day."
" Oh no ! you did not ! . . "
" Indeed I did ; and what is more, I offered
to introduce him to you, or rather, to ask
your permission to do so. There ! was not
that generous on my part ? . . But I can't make
70 EVELYN HARCOURT.
the fellow out ! He affects singularity, in-
sensibility ! what not ! He fought off — talked
of his shyness — his diffidence and insigni-
ficance. I know it was something that
" Just what I told you the other day,
Evelyn," said Lady Truro. " // se fait prier !
now I can't bear that."
Evelyn made no answer ; in her heart she
felt cruelly mortified. She had cherished a
hope almost unknown to herself of that night
making Mr. Sherborne's acquaintance! But
now it seemed as if a barrier had been sud-
denly placed between them — a barrier of his
own raising ! She should never know him —
never express to him, as she had longed to do,
her earnest admiration of his works !
At length, they reached the music gallery ;
and, when once emancipated from the pressure
of the doorway, and at large in that noble
room w^hich can hardly ever be too crowded,
Evelyn looked eagerly round for the object of
EVELYN HARCOURT. 71
her interest. But it was not till she had
joined the dancers that she perceived him
seated in a distant corner by a young and at-
tractive person, whose face she did not even
know. Her curiosity was instantly excited.
'' Who is that pretty girl in white?" in-
quired she of her partner ; *' there — by Mr.
" Oh ! that is his cousin, Lady Annette
And Evelyn, without scarcely knowing it,
felt pleased to hear that it was a relation.
But she would have found it very difficult to
analyze her sensations a moment afterwards,
when her companion added,
" It is said they are engaged to each other ;
I don't know how true it is. There is no
doubt, I imagine, of the lady's preference,
but whether he likes her is another thing;
some people say not. But he is such a strange
fellow that one cannot tell ; one never knows
what he feels."
72 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Evelyn gazed at Lady Annette with a sin-
gular mixture of interest and curiosity. ** It
is a handsome countenance !" said she, almost
" Yes, he is a handsome fellow, certainly,"
replied her companion, who imagined she was
alluding to Mr. Sherborne. " Such an intel-
lectual countenance ! But as usual he looks
horribly bored, does not he ? He hates balls,
and scarcely ever goes to them. I wonder, for
my part, that he is here to-night. There ! —
Lady Annette is trying to provoke him to talk
to her ; but it won't do — he is in one of his
absent moods this evening — thinking, perhaps,
of his next new novel ! . . She is pretty — don't
you think so ?"
" And rich too ; she will have ninety thou-
sand pounds, at least. A good match for
From this moment, till the termination of
the quadrille, Evelyn was totally unconscious
EVELYN HARCOURT. 73
of what her companion was talking about.
She listened to him indeed, and answered
mechanically where answers were required ;
but her thoughts were not with her words.
She was thinking of that fair, bright-eyed girl,
and wondering whether indeed hers were the
happy lot to call such a being her own ; and
whether, if it were so, she appreciated the
happiness. She wondered, too, whether he,
who could so exquisitely describe the highest
species of love, had felt it himself, and for
Then it suddenly struck her that his atti-
tude was less one of happiness than of ab-
straction. His eyes seemed mechanically to
follow the various groups moving around him,
but it was with a thoughtful and preoccupied
expression. And now and then, when Lady
Annette addressed some observation to him,
he seemed to awaken from his reverie; —
but, after a few words of reply, he would
relapse again into silence and apparent
VOL, I. E
74 EVELYN HARCOURT.
abstraction. It was certainly not the manner
of love !
That night was one of peculiar triumph for
Lady Truro. Evelyn was radiant in her
beauty, and never had the homage paid to it
been more striking, more flattering ; never
had its superiority over all others appeared
so pre-eminent. Happy indeed was he who
obtained the honour of her hand for one dance
during that evening — an honour more than
once sought for by Royalty itself. But, in
the midst of all this adulation, so intoxicating
to a young and ardent spirit like hers, her
thoughts were constantly recurring to that
one solitary exception, the only being in all
this brilliant crowd, who cared not to know
her — who rather sought indeed to avoid her
acquaintance. His features dwelt in her
memory — his absent, melancholy look,
and, above all, that lofty and most earnest
expression, unlike any other she had ever
beheld, strangely haunted her.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 75
How little do one half of the world know
or imagine what is passing in the minds of
the other half! As Evelyn stood up in the
quadrille by the side of the young D of
O ^ the envy of every girl in those
princely halls, no one certainly imagined
that her thoughts were far less fixed on the
distinguished honour that was paid her, or
the evident admiration of the royal scion by
her side, than on the silent and melancholy
poet who stood, as it were, apart, the only
one who seemed to refuse allegiance to her
He had left his seat, and Lady Annette was
dancing in the royal quadrille. He was
standing near her, apparently watching the
dancers. Once, Evelyn caught his eye ; but
it glanced over her and away so instantly,
that her heart throbbed with a sensation of
wounded pride ; and she determined to look
at him no more. A few minutes after, how-
ever, she could not refrain from stealing one
76 EVELYN HARCOURT.
more glance in his direction, as she turned to
reply to a remark of the Due D'O ; and
her face in another instant was glowing with
blushes, for she detected him gazing intently
at herself. Many people who observed that
blush and that confusion, gave to them a very
different interpretation from the true one,
imagining that the compliments of Royalty
were beginning to assume something of a ten-
derer tone ; -^ and perhaps some idea of this
kind might occasion the earnest and pro-
longed gaze of Mr. Sherborne himself. Be
this as it may, from that moment Evelyn for-
gave him his previous sins of indifference and
avoidance, and felt, with a degree of pleasure
she could scarcely account for to herself, that
they were no longer perfect strangers to each
From this time, she met him more fre-
quently. He seemed to have grown less
sauvage all of a sudden, and he might now
occasionally be seen at parties, much as he
EVELYN HARCOURT. 77
was known to dislike them. Yet all this
time he was continuing to write, and a new
work of his was actually in the press. The
general eagerness and impatience for its ap-
pearance were, as usual, intense ; and its
sale, when it did appear, was almost un-
To describe the delight of Evelyn would be
really a vain attempt. Every word was de-
voured by her with an eagerness almost too
great for enjoyment ; whole pages were com-
mitted to memory without her even intending
it, and the tears which other parts occasioned
might well have gratified the vanity of the
most unreasonable author upon earth. She
longed more than ever to know him, yet she
seemed to have no chance of doing so ; — and
pride stood in the way of her making the
least overture, the smallest attempt, at ac-
quaintance herself. On one occasion, she
had met him at dinner, and what a happy
day that was ! — for, though he sat at some
78 EVELYN HARCOURT.
distance from her, yet she could now and
then hear the sound of his voice, and even
distinguish a few words at intervals. Their
eyes, too, sometimes met, and she fancied
that his looked not unkindly upon her, though
they were very soon turned away. During
the long interval after dinner in the draw-
ing-room, she kept wondering to herself whe-
ther he would depart without coming up-
stairs. Oh ! who does not know the misery
of that tedious time, when the moments seem
actually to creep ? — who has not suffered
from the dullness of the conversation uttered
often in subdued tones, as though to conceal
its stupidity by rendering it more solemn ? — -
the rustling of the rich satins or silks, as some
lady moves in her chair, or takes coffee — the
gleam of hope, whenever a distant door is
heard to shut ; and, lastly, the throb of
anxiety when the gentlemen do appear at
length, slowly sauntering in, one by one, till
the wished-for one is come ? — Who is there
EVELYN HARCOURT. 79
that has not felt all this at one period or
I have always wondered that amongst the
" miseries of human life," the following was
not inserted —
" After having waited, till your patience is
utterly exhausted, for the appearance of the
gentlemen from the dining-room, in one of
whom all your interest is centred, and whom
you do not expect to have another opportu-
nity of meeting for some time, finding your-
self so completely ' hemmed in' on all sides
by ladies, that Vobjet aiine cannot possibly
penetrate to where you are ; and whilst in a
fever of mortification you sit watching his
disconsolate countenance, suddenly beholding
him pounced upon by a pretty and fascinating
young married woman, * quite the fashion,'
who happens to be peculiarly disposed to
flirting at the time, and who you know to
have a spare Opera- ticket in her possession."
This was not Evelyn's case on the occasion
80 EVELYN HARCOURT.
we speak of, for Mr. Sherborne and she were
not even acquainted. Yet her heart beat
violently when he slowly entered the draw-
ing-room in conversation with Lord Mersey,
and soon after seated himself not far from
where she was ; quite near enough for her to
catch some of the conversation which followed
between him and Lady Scone.
*'0h! Mr. Sherborne," cried that lady^
"you really must write something in my
album. It has been the object of my am-
bition ever since "
"Ever since the world condescended to
patronize me ! Yes, yes, / know. I might
write any nonsense, and you would be equally
pleased ! Ah ! Shakespeare was for once
wrong when he talked as he did about a
name. Everythijig'^ in a name, / believe,"
" Very true, very true ! I acknowledge the
weakness .... But you will still oblige me !"
Evelyn could not hear all that followed,
but she caught a sentence here and there :•—
EVELYN HARCOURT. gl
^' I cannot command my own powers. — There
are moments when I could not write to
oblige you even ; others, when the estro is
upon me, when I could go on day and night
without food or sleep. ..."
*" Ah ! then some day or night, when the
estro is upon you, be a good creature, and
write something for my "
Evelyn felt a kind of indignation at Lady
Scone. How little could she appreciate such
a mind as Mr. Sherborne's ! " At least, I
have a better riijht to know him than she
has !" thought Evelyn to herself.
Lady Fanny Colpoys, so celebrated for
her beautiful voice, was asked to sing. She
performed some Italian songs, at that time
the rage, and then, out of compliment to the
lion of the evening, chose some lines of his,
so exquisite, that they had been set to music
almost immediately after their appearance.
Evelyn knew this ballad well ; it had always
been one of her greatest favourites. Towards
82 EVELYN HARCOURT.
the close of it. Lady Fanny, who knew the
lines but very imperfectly, forgot one of them,
and, pausing for a moment, looked round as
though for assistance. But no one could
prompt her — no one could remember the
exact words, till Evelyn, who was at some
distance, in a trembling voice repeated the
line, and enabled her to proceed. It was a
great effort, for she felt timid before Mr. Sher-^
borne; and afterwards, she was startled to
find that he had approached nearer, much
nearer to her than he was before, and his
eyes were fixed upon her .... But it was not
an expression of contempt — *no, that she
was sure of ! — it was a look of kindness.
She went home happy that night !
Sometimes, she met him out riding; and
however large might be the party she was
with, however far removed they might be
from each other in passing, she was sure to
perceive him at once ; and, though they ex-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 83
changed no salutation, no form of greeting,
yet she fancied he no longer looked coldly
upon her ; — ^he no longer thought her utterly
beneath his notice, as at first.
She had made up her mind that she was
never to know him. She was resolved to
make no overture, and he had evidently deter-
mined on the same thing. She must content
herself with what she could learn of his mind
through his works.
But one day — one memorable day — at a
large dinner-party, which every other person
was voting the dullest that had taken place
that season, she found herself suddenly, un-
expectedly, seated next to Arthur Sherborne.
The first moment of that discovery was almost
less pleasurable than painful ; and she turned
towards the handsome and " irresistible"
Lord Castleton, who had taken her in to
dinner, with a momentary determination to
talk to him without ceasing during the whole
time it lasted. She had longed for just such
84 EVELYN HARCOURT.
a chance as tins, oh, how often ! But now
that it was come, she felt far more frightened
In a few moments she perceived that Mr.
Sherborne was silent; he had turned away
from his neighbour on the other side, and
was listening to her conversation. Her
heart beat quickly; she blushed— hesitated — •
stammered^-and broke off suddenly ; to Lord
Castleton's utter surprise, who could not con-
ceive what on earth he had said or done to
occasion such agitation. In the mean time^
she turned a little towards Mr. Sherborne,
and stole a timid glance upwards. She met
his eye — ^but its gentle expression at once
reassured her; it seemed to ask why they
should not be friends. She resolved, cost
what it might, to break the ice ; it was for
her to do so, and it might freeze again, if he
wished that it should.
In a trembling voice, she ventured some
trifling observation on the weather, and then
EVELYN HARCOURT. 85
blushed with shame at such a commencement
with such a man. But, if the remark were
foolish, he at least did not seem to think so.
He caught at the opening ; they entered into
conversation, and from that instant all diffi-
culty vanishedj^I will not say all reserve on
her part, for her enthusiastic admiration of his
genius rendered her fearful and diffident be-
fore him, — ^she who knew not what it was to be
shy with others. She felt her own immea-
surable inferiority to him ; whilst he was con-
scious of nothing but surprise, and some little
dissatisfaction with himself, for having j udged
her prematurely, and imagined that a creature
so ingenuous, enthusiastic, and natural as he
now perceived her to be, must, of necessity,
because she was beautiful, be a heartless and
*' Well, Evelyn ! so you and your favourite
author have at last made acquaintance," said
Lady Truro, as they were returning home
86 EVELYN HARCOURT.
afterwards. " Did you find him agreeal)le ?
He seemed to me more talkative than usual."
Evelyn felt a strong disinclination to speak
of him at all. Something whispered to her that
Lady Truro was incapable of appreciating him,
and that she could neither sympathize with
nor comprehend the kind of enthusiasm with
which he had inspired herself. She made
some indifferent reply, and turned the subject
— and from that time she carefully avoided all
mention of his name.
" Shall you ride to-morrow, as usual, in the
Park?" he had inquired, a moment before
they had parted, that memorable evening ; —
and this simple question had filled Evelyn
with a hope and gladness not to be described.
It had given her something to look forward
to. She felt certain she should see him ; and,
althouo;h the weather looked so doubtful that
Lady Truro was more than half disposed to
send away the horses when they had actually
EVELYN HARCOURT. 87
come round to the door, Evelyn was so posi-
tive it would not rain, so eager to go, that
her cousin could not but indulge her. They
set out, therefore ; the Duke of Shetland was
soon, as usual, in attendance, and they were
gradually joined by one after another of the
beaux of the Truro clique. But Evelyn's
spirits began to droop. IMr. Sherborne would
never join such a phalanx, especially when ha
had not even been introduced to Lady Truro.
She perceived hira at length, and her heart
beat quickly as she saw him approach. But,
with a bow to herself, and-a smile and a nod
to two or three of her accompanying satellites
whom he knew, he passed on at a slow and
sauntering pace, and her hopes sank at once.
The pleasure— the interest of her ride was
over; and when, a few minutes afterwards,
she felt a drop of rain, she announced the
alarming fact to her companions, careless how
soon they returned home now. The whole
party agreed that it was better to retrace
88 EVELYN HARCOURT.
their steps, than to run the risk of a wetting ;
and all urged their horses into a canter, which
lasted till they had overtaken Mr. Sherborne,
who was proceeding leisurely along, either
unconscious of the impending shower, or in-
different to it. No sooner did Evelyn per-
ceive him than she declared she must stop !
she was quite out of breath, and she could
canter no further without resting. All paused,
of course ; and, in another moment, Mr. Sher-
borne, startled from his reverie by the ap-
proach of their party, and encouraged by her
sweet smile, had joined it, and been formally
introduced to Lady Truro.
Then succeeded a short interval of happiness
for Evelyn. Her cousin was sufficiently en-
grossed by two of the most agreeable and
fashionable roues in London to require no-
thing more ; and most of their other beaux,
including the Duke, having taken their leave
when they stopped, on the plea of dinner en-
gagements, &c., she was left at liberty to
EVELYN HARCOITRT. 89
converse with Mr. Sherborne during the short
interval that remained before they should
reach Grosvenor Square*
She already began to feel that they had
made some progress in their acquaintance.
She had begun to talk to him of his works ;
and he, after allowing some little surprise to
escape him at finding that she had even read
so many of them, had begun to inquire, with
much apparent interest, which she preferred,
and on what accounts, &c. Never were two
persons more intent upon, more engrossed
in, their conversation. The rain might have
fallen in torrents, and they would have
scarcely heeded it.
His astonishment was every moment in-
creasing. This beautiful creature, whom he
had hitherto supposed to be devoted to no-
thing but the admiration of the world — a
mere gaudy butterfly, nearly as thoughtless
and as evanescent, seemed to be almost as
intimately acquainted with every thing he
90 EVELYN HARCOURT.
had written as he was himself! It was very
" I will never again take things for granted,"
said Arthur Sherborne to himself, as he gazed
upon the magnificent eyes turned towards his.
" You have something to answer for, Miss
Harcourt," said he, at length, in a low voice ;
" you have ministered strangely to my vanity
within the last half hour; and I begin to
think myself twice the man I did before. If
you should hear that I am grown intolerably
conceited, you may reproach yourself."
Evelyn blushed at these words. Oh ! how
beautiful was that blush !
" But I am not singular, at least, in my
admiration," she replied timidly ; " you must
hear the same from everybody."
" I care little for the admiration of enery-
body ; and, if I did, how much of it could
I trust to as sincere? But yours. ..I am vain
enough — credulous enough, if you will, to
believe you only express what you feel."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 91
" It is paying me but a poor compliment to
call it credulity !"
" I will not call it so, then... I am a strange,
wayward being, often wanting a motive for
exertion, — a stimulus to urge me on to what
I might be. You have inspired me with one
within the last half hour. It is, indeed,
worth while to labour, if, amongst the mass of
soulless and unsympathizing beings to whom
an author must address himself in his works,
he can feel sure of one solitary, bright excep-
tion — one heart that approves his toil, and
sympathizes with what shall remain in memory
of him after death — one spirit for whom he
has not watched, and meditated, and aspired
in vain !..."
Evelyn was silent. Such words, addressed
to her, and from him !...it seemed too exqui-
site to be real.
Alas ! the time soon came when they must
part. Lady Truro was remarkably gracious
in her adieus; and, to Evelyn's great asto-
92 EVELYN HARCOURT*.
nishment, even went so far as to invite him to
an evening party at her house for the following
day. His particular friend, Sir Aubrey Har-
court, was to be there, she said, and others
whom he knew; she hoped he would waive
ceremony, and come.
He bowed ;— expressed himself much flat-
tered, but doubted whether he had not another
engagement. He would come, however, if he
could ; he should be too happy !
As he said this, Evelyn's eye met his, and
she felt certain that he would come.
" I thought I could not do better than ask
him," said Lady Truro, as they entered the
house ; " he is quite the rage just now ; really,
that last book of his a fait fureur — much
more than it deserves, / think; but these
things are all fashion.... However, since he is
so much run after, it is just as well to be civil
to him. He is somebody for one's guests to
stare at ; and really, the man is not nearly so
conceited as one might expect, considering his
EVELYN HARCOURT. 93
extraordinary talents, and the fuss that is
made about them ! I' think he is improved,
too, lately. — How I should like to know what
he got for that play of his — something stu-
pendous, of course !"
" Very true !" replied Evelyn abstractedly.
94 EVEtYN HARCOURT.
In thoughts like these, true wisdom may discera
Longings sublime and aspirations high,
Which some are born with.
But she was pensive, more than melancholy,
And serious more than pensive ; and serene
It may be, more than either ; — not unholy
Nothing could afford a greater contrast than
the life of Evelyn Harcourt and that of Helen
Eridge ; the only occupation of the former
was amusement, the only amusement of the
latter was occupation, always of a sohd, fre-
quently of a serious kind. Helen, without
being clever, was of a peculiarly thoughtful
disposition, which delighted to search out the
truth of things. There are some minds natu-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 95
rally gifted with a power of looking at subjects
in a comprehensive point of view, and detect-
ing what is real and what is shadowy in this
strange and variable existence. This power
perhaps most commonly belongs to persons of
a calm and equable disposition, but it by no
means argues coldness nor insensibility of feel-
ing, although it requires a clear judgment and
an enlarged mind ; a certain nobility of soul,
in short, (if we may be allowed the expression)
without which the Present, with all the grosser
objects of this world, will always be para-
Few people look deeply into any subject,
although, even in material things, they are
continually reminded that the remoteness of
objects neither diminishes their reality nor
their importance. What would be thought of
a person who endeavoured to maintain that
because a single darkened pane of glass con-
cealed from his view whole plains and moun-
tains, those plains and mountains were smaller
96 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and more insignificant than the darkened pane
of glass ? Yet, when men sacrifice the Future
to the Present, as so many do, are they not
acting according to such reasoning? The
Present is before them indeed, tangible and
real; the Future, if looked for at all, appears
inconceivably diminished in the distance. But
the Future shall one day become the Present,
when that for which it was sacrificed shall have
merged into the mighty and unchangeable abyss
of the Past ! He, therefore, that most bears
the Future in mind, and remembering the effect
upon his mental as well as corporeal vision, of
remoteness in the objects concerned, judges of
them not as they seem to be, but as he knows
that they really are— he is the only wise and
true philosopher ; I might add, too, the only
religious man, for is not faith the very essence
of religion — a faith that teaches us to look ever
beyond the Present and to forget this world,
in whose miry paths our feet are treading,
whilst we aspire to another of which the far
EVELYN HARCOURT. 97
and serene skies are but the emblem ? Chris-
tianity breathes this doctrine throughout — the
doctrine of hope for the Future, It tests all
things ; and before its pure and divine light
the glittering and the false, the hollow and
the vain, the earnest and the solemn, assume
their true colour — their real shape ! Gain
often appears loss ! — success misfortune ! —
affliction a blessing ! — Prosperity a curse !
" The first last, and the last first !"
Thoughts such as these were continually
passing through the mind of Helen Bridge ;
thoughts graver perhaps than usually occupy
the attention of one so young, but which yet
do sometimes enter in we know not how, and,
once received, employ in earnest contempla-
tion the immortal spirit they so intimately
concern. She would think of her companion
— the friend of her childhood — who had
hitherto shared her every feeling; and she
would ponder over the change that had taken
place in that friend's lot, till she felt sad at
VOL. I. F
98 EVELYN HARCOURT.
heart — sad to think that their childish days
Evelyn had been all in all to her. Her
wild, jexuberant spirits had not been the less
grateful to Helen, because she was more quiet
and subdued herself; and the thoughtless en-
thusiasm of the happy girl had not perhaps
endeared her the less to her graver companion,
because, ever since their days of infancy, she
had been accustomed to watch over and pro-
Evelyn wrote to her often, and as tenderly
as ever; it was clear that her heart was at
present unchanged. But Helen could not
conceal from herself that their objects, their
interests, their pleasures, were no longer the
same. The very persons about whom Evelyn
wrote were most of them unknown to her, and
those she did know she felt little inclined to
like. It must end, she thought, in a certain
estrano:ement between them.
Her own life was monotonous in its quiet
EVELYN HARCOURT. 99
regularity, and in heart she was solitary.
Her grand-parents, in spite of their doting
affection for her, were utterly incapable of
sympathizing with her more intellectual and
inquiring mind; and indeed the old have
seldom much in common with the young. She
devoted herself to them, and they cherished
her with double tenderness now that they had
but her to cherish ; but her books, her rambles,
her solitary meditations, were all things in
which they could take no part.
They missed Evelyn sadly. Her ringing
voice and merry laugh were heard no more at
Oriel, and they found it hard to reconcile
themselves to the change. She had been the
spoiled child, the plaything of the house, and
every one felt the void her absence had pro-
duced. The old man had got into a habit of
wishing for her as he sat in the chimney-
corner in the evenings — his favourite place,
even in summer, whilst his wife sat beside him,
in her high-backed, carved oak chair, with
100 EVELYN HARCOURT.
spectacles on nose, knitting away as inde-
fatigably as though the food of the next day
depended on the result of her labours. At
such times, Evelyn had been wont to enliven
the little circle. Her merry prattle, her
musical talents, had whiled away many a
tedious hour — tedious to those whose plea-
sures were decreasing, as their infirmities
increased. But now there was seriousness
where there used to have been mirth — silence
where there used to have been melody !
Still, the picture was a beautiful one —
beautiful, from the very serenity that charac-
terized it. The old, panelled room, with its
oriel windows and high-backed chairs ; the
massive oak table, the carved bookcases, the
quaint, old-fashioned organ, the very bird-
cages, covered with their green baize, (the old
lady's peculiar care) all spoke of quiet home-
habits and domestic comfort. Then the ve-
nerable old man, with his long silver hair, his
patriarchal face, and mild expression ; and his
EVELYN HARCOURT. 101
faithful helpmate, with her quaint costume,
never varied for years past — her kindly coun-
tenance, on which time had left all those
mellowed tints which a beautiful skin at
length acquires ; — both were a study in them-
selves. Even the poor old spaniel, Gwynu,
the faithful companion of many a year, added
his share to the effect of the scene, as with
his nose just resting against his master's heel,
as though to remind him of his presence, he
dozed away his untroubled hours.
There was the grandchild, too, the very per-
sonification of innocence and youth, sometimes
conversing with them upon topics connected
with their own time, on which, like most
others of a former generation, they dearly
loved to speak ; sometimes (and then the pic-
ture was indeed a touching one) reading aloud
to them from the large silver-clasped Bible.
Then the old man would lean his head upon
his hand to listen ; and his wife, laying her
knitting bv, would gaze through her spectacles
102 EVELYN HARCOURT.
upon the face of the fair girl, and not a sound
would be heard throughout that ancient, quiet
chamber, but the tones of her young voice.
There were times, indeed, when the old
house was merry with youthful sports, for
Mr. Eridge had other grandchildren, besides
Helen, who were younger than she was ; and
occasionally they would be allowed to visit
Oriel for a time. They were the children of
his only son, who had died, some years before,
abroad. This son had married unfortunately,
and his wife, an ill-tempered, eccentric, fine
lady, had made him wretched during his life,
and after his death had contrived by her ex-
travagance to involve herself more than once
in considerable difficulties.
Mr. Eridge could not be called rich. The
estate of Oriel, which had been in his family
for many generations, was less profitable than
it had been, and he had little income besides
what he derived from it ; he was therefore by
no means able to meet the demands constantly
EVELYN HARCOURT. 108
made upon hira by bis selfisb and grasping
daugbter-in-law. He did what he could, how-
ever ; for be never forgot that she was the
widow of his son Harry, and the mother of
his Harry's children. Twice he paid her
debts, thereby considerably diminishing his
own income, and sacrificino^ the little savino^s
of many years. He offered, too — nay, he en-
treated to be allowed — to undertake the main-
tenance and education of his two grandsons,
on the eldest of whom his estate was entailed ;
but this the mother peremptorily refused, as
well as the proposal made by the good old
couple that she and her children should take
up their abode permanently at Oriel. Her
fancy was to live abroad ; and abroad she
would continue to live. Occasionally, how-
ever, she had sent the boys to their grand-
father's for a time ; and now that they were
at a private tutor's, it was arranged that they
should in future spend all their vacations at
104 EVELYN HARCOURT.
The old man delighted in having them.
Little as he could enter into their pursuits or
amusements, they were still his descendants,
the offspring of his Harry ; and he cherished
them with that blind and doting fondness
which is sometimes observable in the old to-
wards their grandchildren, even more than
towards their own children.
At the time of which we speak, these boys
were expected at Oriel; and Helen looked
forward to their arrival with very little of the
satisfaction her grandfather experienced. She
remembered what they had been during their
last visit ; and she had no reason to expect
that they would be less selfish, less headstrong,
nor more considerate now. Her heart sank
within her when she heard Mr. Bridge ob-
serve one morning at breakfast, " In three
days more the dear boys will be here. Mary,
you will have their sheets well aired — bless
their hearts !"
And the old lady replied with alacrity —
EVELYN HARCOURT. 105
" No doubt, no doubt, my dear. Their
beds were slept in last night, and shall be till
they arrive. I languish to see them, dear
So did not Helen. She, on the contrary,
felt that these would be her last three days of
peace. But she kept her reflections to her-
And when they arrived, and she saw them,
she almost laughed at herself for her previous
anxieties. They were grown into rational
beings, almost into men ; and she perceived
that she need entertain no apprehensions of
accidents in the ponds, nor any overwhelming
sense of responsibility on their account. They
were very well able to take care of, as well as
to amuse themselves, and would probably in-
terfere as little with her pursuits, as their
uncle. Captain Percy, who had accompanied
them, would do.
It was wonderful how separation from their
mother had improved them, and still more
106 EVELYN IIARCOURT.
constant association with this uncle, who was
neither capricious nor unreasonable, like her,
but a sensible, judicious, and j)leasant com-
panion for them, and one whose example they
naturally felt disposed to emulate. Helen
was so struck with their vast improvement,
that, instead of shunning their society, as she
had formerly done, she now found herself very
constantly seeking it. It was so delightful
to see how Captain Percy influenced them !
He was so kind, and yet so firm ! He would
be minded ! A word from him would control
them at any time ; and yet they seemed to
love him and treat him like a brother. His
method of management appeared to her so
good, that she thought she could not learn
too much of it for her own future guidance ;
and she consequently made a point, on prin-
ciple, of seeing as much as possible of her
cousins, especially when their uncle was with
EVELYN HARCOURT. 107
To you my soul's affections move
Devoutly, warmly, true ;
My life is now a task of love,
One long, long thought of you.
I have not loved the world...
.. in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such. I stood
Among them, but not of them — in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts.
Amiens. The Duke hath been all this day to look you.
Jacques. And I have been all this day to avoid him.
As You Like It.
Our talk grew somewhat serious.
In the mean time, a new object had entered
into Evelyn's existence, a new chord had been
awakened in her bosom ; and suddenly, as by
some hidden and mighty agency, her soul
108 EVELYN HARCOURT.
became surrounded, as it were, with a flood
of light and inspiration. Oh, the enchant-
ment of love — first love ! How many a voice
has sung its praises since first it illumined
the earth ! How many a heart has striven, in
the fulness of its own unutterable ecstasy, to
image forth its treasures ! But never could
it be ! The Spirit is too divine to be imagined
unless felt, and nothing but its own presence
can teach us what it is.... As little could any
effort of man paint the brightness of the sun,
as the celestial spirit of love, first love, be
described to one who knows it not.
It was only lately that Evelyn had become
conscious of the nature of her own feelings.
She had long deceived herself — long imagined
it was admiration only that she felt for Mr.
Sherborne — admiration for talents so exalted,
a genius so aspiring and so rare. This had
indeed been the origin of her desire to know
him ; for she had always, as had Helen also,
wished most earnestly to make his acquaint-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 109
ance; but at what period her feelings had
first begun to change, at what time admi-
ration had first merged into love, she knew
not. She only knew that love was now
there ; that, whatever were her occupation, he
was in her thoughts, raising them, as it were,
to himself ; that, wherever she went, he it was
she looked for, and that, if she saw him not,
she turned within the recesses of her own
heart, and found him there! Every thing
beautiful, of sight, and sound, and imagina-
tion, seemed in some hidden manner to be
connected with him. Love shed its lustre
over all, and the earth to her seemed one
paradise of hope.
She knew not that he loved her, yet still
she was happy. She looked not beyond the
present ; it was sufficient to see him ; to con-
verse with him, however rarely ; to think of
him, and feel the brightness of his intellect ;
and, when she saw him not, to look forward
to seeing him again. And how each look.
1 1 EVELYN HARCOURT.
each word, was prized, and meditated on, and
repeated again and again to herself!
As yet Lady Truro suspected nothing.
From the moment that Evelyn had become
conscious of the nature of her feelings, they
had been safe from detection ; she guarded
her secret with a jealous care, of which no
one who had known her previously would
have imagined her capable. She avoided all
allusion to Mr. Sherborne; and, if he were
spoken of, she turned away as soon as pos-
sible from the subject. A certain instinctive
consciousness told her that Lady Truro would
not sympathize with her love, and that she
was incapable of appreciating its object. Yet,
Evelyn was fondly attached to her cousin ;
she loved her with the earnest and confiding
devotion of a young heart that had never yet
known deception ; she would have gone to
the ends of the earth to serve her, and there
was nothing she would not have sacrificed for
EVELYN IIARCOURT. 1 1 1
Evelyn was continually meeting Mr. Sher-
borne in society ; he no longer seemed to
shun it as formerly, and he might now be fre-
quently seen at assemblies and crowded balls,
though he never danced. It was difficult to
say what it was he came for — certainly not
for her ; for sometimes he would remain
during a whole evening in the same room with
her, and never even approach or look at her.
But she was conscious that her manner must
appear to him any thing but encouraging.
Ever since she had begun to awaken to the
consciousness of her own feelings, an over-
powering timidity had seized upon her.
Whilst, in reality, her heart was dancing
within her with joy at his approach, the tones
of her voice would sound cold and constrained
as she replied to his greeting ; she scarcely
dared to raise her eyes to his ; she felt
abashed in his presence. Words sometimes
altogether failed her, and she would stand
there beside him, silent, cold, stern even, in
112 EVELYN HAKCOURT.
her glorious beauty, until, chilled by a manner
so unaccountable to him, so different from
what it had been during their first acquaint-
ance, he would leave her, and retreat to a
distance. Then the blood would rush sud-
denly back to her cheeks, and she would long,
earnestly long, for his return ; but he would
come no more.
This coldness of manner did not pass un-
noticed by Lady Truro. " It was a pity," she
would say, " to be so formal and forbidding
to one as universally courted as he was, espe-
cially when at first she had seemed to like
him : it must appear to him like caprice. The
acquaintance of a man of his notoriety was
by no means to be despised ; on the contrary,
he was one whom it was really desirable to
know. He was reserved — perhaps, singular;
but a person of his talent had a right to be
odd ; nay, would be singular, if he were not
so. As for conceit, or the paltry vanity of
giving himself airs, she must say he was
EVELYN HARCOURT. 113
wonderfully free from any thing of the kind,
though at one time she had not thought so."
Such speeches as these Lady Truro was
continually making; and Evelyn either lis-
tened to them in total silence, or made some
reply, which sounded like the height of indif-
ference. But, in reality, her object on such oc-
casions was to conceal her face from her cousin,
lest the burning blushes which the mention
of that name never failed to call forth should
attract her attention and excite her suspicions.
It would have taken a good deal, however,
to excite any suspicion in Lady Truro's mind
about such a man as Arthur Sherborne. Not-
withstanding his singular beauty and unri-
valled genius, she had never contemplated
him in the light of a dangerous person, nor
one by any means likely to captivate the
heart of a young and lovely girl like Evelyn
Harcourt. It was generally understood that
he was not a marrying man. His father,
whose tastes had been luxurious and extra-
114 EVELYN HARCOURT.
vagant to the greatest degree, had died much
involved; and it was notorious that he had
determined on paying all that father's debts.
For this purpose, he lived in the simplest and
least expensive manner, invariably appro-
priating the immense sums his works obtained
to that object, which indeed now had been
very nearly accomplished.
He was notoriously indifferent to women.
No one could remember any instance of pre-
ference ever shown by him for any one in
particular. Either too philosophical or too
abstracted to dream of love for himself, ex-
quisitely as he could conceive and inimitably
portray the divine nature of that passion,
he was generally considered as far too high
above the ordinary interests and concerns of
life to enable him to mix in its follies, or
share its passions. He seemed to contemplate
them, as it were, from his own lofty eminence,
and to be entirely absorbed in that contem-
plation. A lonely and meditative philoso-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 115
pher, he painted the various scenes, the
groups, the lights and shadows he saw be-
neath him, as no other hand could paint, but
apparently without a wish to behold them
nearer, without a desire to mingle in them,
like his fellows. And, though his heart was
teeming with benevolence towards all man-
kind, yet the world viewed him with less of
kindness than of fear. His very superiority
rendered him to many an object of awe ; to
some of envy indeed, but to a greater number
one of dislike. It was imagined that talents
so extraordinary must render him superci-
lious towards his kind, and the somewhat
lonely life he preferred to lead rather tended
to foster this impression. In short, every one
who knew him would have said that Arthur
Sherborne was the very last man in London
likely to conceive a passion for a young and
inexperienced girl — perhaps, the last man
likely to inspire one ; but on this latter point
opinions might possibly have differed.
1 1 6 EVELYN HARCOURT.
As for Lady Truro, she would almost sooner
have expected that Evelyn should fall in love
with her own lord than with the celebrated
Author, whom she appeared to regard with a
degree of fear that almost paralyzed her in
his presence. It was wonderful that Mr.
Sherborne had not long ago been utterly dis-
gusted by the marked coldness and reserve of
her manner to him ; but perhaps her acknow-
ledged admiration of his works, and the un-
tiring perseverance with which she read them
again and again, might, by gratifying his va-
nity, blind him to the dislike she really seemed
to entertain towards him personally. Lady
Truro hoped it might be so ; for she had no
wish to offend one on whom the world lavished
its smiles as profusely as it did on Mr. Sher-
borne ; and, besides, she was very well pleased
to have him frequently at her parties.
A Juvenile Fete was to be given about this
time at Lady Susan East's beautiful villa at
EVELYN HARCOURT. 117
W , in honour of a youthful branch of the
royal family ; and Lady Truro and her young
cousin were among the prices. But the former,
being indisposed, had requested a friend of
hers, Lady Belharris, to take charge of Evelyn,
and to perform the flattering part of chaperon
to the young beauty on the occasion.
The day rose dark and cloudy ; and, when
Evelyn first entered her cousin's room in the
morning, it was raining hard. About noon,
however, the clouds parted, the sun appeared,
and as beautiful and serene a summer's day as
had been felt during that season burst forth
all at once.
" 1 wish I were going with you," said Lady
Truro, as Evelyn entered her boudoir, dressed
in the simplest but most perfect taste, and
looking fresher and more lovely than an open-
ino- rose : " I would order the carriage and go
now— I declare I would, if Locock had not
said he would call to-day. But perhaps the
excitement might be bad for me— I certainly
118 EVELYN HARCOURT.
do feel very weak this morning, and, if he were
to find out that I had been to a breakfast, I
suppose I should get a most tremendous
scolding ! — "
" Yes, dear Barberina," replied Evelyn af-
fectionately, " you know he told you not to
leave the house till he had seen you ; and,
though a quiet country drive might do you
good, going to a dejeuner like this is very
" Yes ! — Well ! you must go without me."
" But, after all, why should I go at all ?
Why should I not stay and drive with you ? I
can tell Lady Belharris, when she calls for me,
that I have changed ray mind. Do let me
give it up — I had much rather."
" No, my dear ; it would be a thousand
pities : si Men mise, si comme il faut, as you
are ! No ; I will not hear of it. It is to be
a very pretty thing, unusually pretty and
brilliant they tell me, and you will enjoy it
exceedingly. The Duke is to be there too."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 ] 9
'' Is he ?" said Evelyn abstractedly ; for she
was thinking whether one other person would
be there. She feared it was not likely ; if he
should be, indeed ....
"■ What shall I do with myself till this
doctor comes?" said Lady Truro, languidly
raising her head from the splendid cushion on
which it was reposing, and looking round the
room as though in quest of occupation. " All
the world will be gone to this breakfast — no
one will call — "
" Why not let me stay with you, as I wish ?
I should like it so much !"
" My dear, I have too much regard for
Deschamps' feelings — too much for the
" The Duke's !"
" Yes, the Duke's. You need not look so
innocent and so astonished. I wonder what
he would say to me if I were to keep you
from this dejeuner, and only to amuse my-
120 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" Let him say what he likes ; I am sure, I
" But I do ; — and you must too, let me
Lady Truro paused, and looked steadily at
Evelyn, as though she would read her inmost
thoughts. Perhaps, however, she considered
it better to say nothing now of her own ; it
was not yet time, and any attempt to in-
fluence her might do mischief.
" I shall do very well, dear," said she, after
a moment's silence. " Perhaps, Mrs. William
Gardner may come ; she is always pleasant —
and Helen Montgomery.... If you could find
me an amusing book. . "
" Oh ! there is Mr. Sherborne's last work ;
you have never read it."
" No, not through ; and, to tell you the
truth, I never mean to do so. It is very
clever, I admit ; very deep, very fine — but it
has too much of the ' sublime and beautiful '
for me. I cannot enjoy being carried up to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 121
such a tremendous height ; it makes me
Evelyn turned away in silence. She felt a
real pity for any one that could talk so of
Mr. Sherborne's works.
Just then, there was a tremendous rap at
" There is Lady Belharris .... Now, go,
Evelyn, dear ; be sensible, and tell the Duke I
expect him on Wednesday evening. Here is
a bouquet for you."
'* Oh no, not those beautiful flowers — keep
them yourself, Barberina."
" Now don't be childish — there — take thera ;
— they were meant for you."
Lady Truro did not tell her that the Duke
had sent them that morning with " his compli-
ments to Miss Harcourt !"
" I really don't like leaving you all alone,
dear Barberina," said Evelyn. " I wish Lord
Truro . . . . "
She stopped short. — A singular expression
VOL. I. G
122 EVELYN HARCOURT.
passed over Lady Truro's countenance ; but it
lasted only for a moment.
" You had better wish nothing about Lord
Truro, my dear;" said she, half laughing,
half seriously — ** If you must wish anything,
let it be that your husband may never give
you greater cause of complaint than mine
Any one who had heard hes ^ words might
have supposed Lady Truro was utterly uncon-
scious that she had any causes of complaint.
Evelyn sighed : s she ( pened the door ; —
'' I shall never marry !" said she ....
The day was indeed lovely. The rain had
completely laid even the obstinate London
dust, whilst it had refreshed the air, and there
was not a cloud to be seen in the deep expanse
of blue ; so clear, so serene, that Evelyn
longed to traverse its pathless depths, like the
happy birds that seemed winging their flight
rejoicing towards the sun.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 123
Did any one ever gaze at those azure regions,
and not feel something of inspiration towards
the heaven that fancy pictures there ? I pity
those who can ! To me the sky is full of
light and hope ; and whether in the early
morning, when the stars grow pale, or in the
"•entle eventide, when all nature seems dis-
posed to contemplation, or in the solemn night,
when worlds of dazzling brilliancy seem gazing
down upon the haunts of men, to watch their
sleep — never can I look out upon those illimi-
table heavens without an intense longing for
that immortality which perchance shall reveal
their mysteries ! The ocean is grand and
sublime, but it produces not the same sensa-
tions as the sky. It calls forth wonder and
admiration, but it speaks of this world — of
the uncertain and treacherous Present, of
which it forms so true an emblem. But the
sky, the far and serene sky, tells of the Future ;
that future w^hich shall be as infinitely above
the present, as the heavens are above the earth.
124 EVELYN HARCOURT.
I remember the impression made upon me
when yet a child by hearing one say, who had
spent many years at sea, that his greatest
pleasure had often consisted in lying on the
deck for hours during fine weather, and watch-
ing the exquisite and airy tracery of the
clouds as they gleamed athwart the sails;
some piled in pyramids one above another;
some stretching far across the sky, like mighty
monsters of the air ; some scattered in arrowy
lines, as thouo^h fluno^ with vehement force
from a hand ; some fleecy, and immeasurably
distant ; some white, and luminous, and shin-
ing, as we might fancy angel's wings. Who
cannot sympathize with such a contemplation,
and with all who bring down beauty and in-
spiration from the skies ?
There is no accounting for our various
moods of mind, though it is certain that
matter has a singular influence over some of
them. What joyous and serene feelings may
be called forth by a bright and sunny day ! —
EVELYN HARCOURT. 125
and if the mists happen to hang somewhat
lower than usual about this strange ball of
ours, what gloom, and sullen fancies, and
morbid discontent, will sit brooding upon the
spirits of many of its children ! —
But, if the sun, and balmy airs, and har-
monious sounds, and all the sweet influences
of a delicious summer afternoon, had power
to dissipate malignant humours and ensure
content, there would not have been one me-
lancholy heart that day. As Evelyn was
whirled rapidly along, the breath of heaven
seemed to her all balm ; each tree she passed
was picturesque in her eyes, and every little
plot of garden-ground wafted delicious per-
fume. All things shone around her ; and her
spirit rejoiced within her, and was glad.
She felt little inclined to converse ; her
thoughts were full of him she loved. Every-
thing beautiful, and happy, and inspiring, al-
ways connected itself in her mind with him.
The spirit of his poetry and his lofty philo-
126 EVELYN HARCOURT.
sophy had communicated itself to her, and
she had learnt to look at all things with some-
thing of his eyes. Singular and beautiful
power of love, which can imbue the heart of
the worshipper with the doctrines and spirit
of the worshipped !
They soon arrived at the place of their des-
tination ; and Lady Belharris, with the lovely
Evelyn on her arm, and her troop of besashed
and beflounced little ones following in her
rear, was soon in the midst of the gay throng
assembled on the lawn, and returning the in-
numerable greetings which met her on all
sides; whilst Evelyn stole furtive glances
around, in search of one face, one form, which
as yet she could not see.
" How do you do, Lady Belharris ?"
*' Only just come?" ''And are all these
your little people ? Good gracious ! is it pos-
sible ?"■ "Good morning, Miss Harcourt !"
" No, I have only two here ; the others
are too young — Lady Mary said she would
EVELYN HARCOURT. 127
not bring them." " Yes, that is my sister,
standing by Madame de St. Angelo — there, in
blue." " Charmed to see you, Miss Har-
court. Lady Truro not here?" *'0h! I
am sorry ; but I thought her looking ill the
other...." "Shall I lift you up, my little
'' But I don't see Punch."
" Not see Punch ? Why, Harry, my dear,
where are your eyes ?"
" The Princess is not come."
" Not yet ; when she does come, they will
have the jugglers."
" What a charming place !"
" Is not it ? — and so near London ! — de-
'' There — the Princess is come. Don't you
hear them playing * God save the King V "
" But the King is not here, is he, mamma?"
inquired a little treble voice.
'' Hush, Cecil ! Did not I tell you to ask
no foolish questions?"
128 EVELYN HARCOURT.
The scene was indeed a brilliant one, as the
Princess M of was ushered out
upon the lawn by the lady of the house. The
smooth fresh turf, with the flickering shadows
playing upon it, as the soft wind waved the
feathery foliage — the groups of lovely children
scattered about — the parterres of flowers —
the vases, and the bright sun, and cloudless
sky — all presented as beautiful a picture as
can well be imagined.
Many a little heart beat with emotion, as
the inspiring air was played which no national
anthem ever surpassed, and many a little
spirit envied the youthful scion of Royalty in
whose honour this/e1fe was given. But, of all
the gay throng assembled on that sunny lawn,
there was none, young or old, who felt the
thrill of intense excitement with which Evelyn
listened to those melodious sounds. As she
stood, turned towards the band, with her head
slightly upraised, her eyes sparkling through
the tears that had sprung to them, her noble
EVELYN HARCOURT. 129
countenance singularly expressive of the en-
thusiasm she was feeling, she was unconscious
of everything but that inspiring melody. And
it was not till it had ceased, and she had
turned away with a sigh of excited feeling,
that she became aware of Mr. Sherborne's
presence and vicinity, and that he was intently
regarding her. Her cheeks instantly became
the deepest crimson, and she returned his
salutation with an embarrassment so evident,
that he could not fail to be struck by it. In
another moment, he was by her side ; and she
was trembling under all that tumult of joy, of
hope, and unconquerable timidity, which his
presence invariably occasioned.
His first words were insiofnificant enough.
" Is Lady Truro not here ?"
"No; she has not been very well the last
few days^and so I I came with Lady
There was a pause.
" You are fond of music," said he, at length.
130 EVELYN HARCOURT.
*' I saw it just now as you were listening to
the band. You felt at that moment as if you
were a queen yourself; was it not so?"
She smiled, and looked up at him, but
her lip quivered, and she made no answer.
Again there was a pause, and he felt dis-
couraged ; whilst she longed to speak, but
could not. But once more the music struck
up, and, amongst the tumult of emotions
which was agitating her, she perceived the
Duke of Shetland, who had just arrived, ap-
proaching. She instantly turned away ; her
fear of his approach suddenly inspired her
" The jugglers are beginning, I think,"
said she. " I should like to go and look at
Mr. Sherborne at once offered his arm, as
indeed he could scarcely avoid doing; she
took it, and then turned to look for Lady
Belharris, who was talking to a group of
EVELYN H ARCOURT. 131
" Lady Belharris, I dare say the children
are dying to see the jugglers, as I am childish
enough to be. Do come ! Shall I take charge
" Oh, how kind of you ! — if she will not be
in your way. Beau, my dear, go to Miss
Harcourt, and mind you are not trouble-
How Evelyn's hand trembled as it rested
upon his arm ! and she trembled yet more lest
he should perceive it. She was close to him
— they touched one another — she was in a
perfect heaven of happiness !
And it was not long before even her exces-
sive shyness and conscious timidity began to
disappear in the intense interest excited by
his conversation. They talked of his works,
of authors in general, and himself in par-
ticular; and she soon forgot everything in
her eager desire to learn more about him —
more of his heart. He told her much con-
nected with the composition of his works ;
1S2 EVELYN HARCOURT.
how one had been written languidly, and, as
it were, with effort, (because he felt he had
been too long idle) and consequently bore a
totally different character from the rest ; how
another had been composed during a period
of joy, when a beloved friend had just re-
turned after a long absence ; how a third had
formed the pastime and amusement of inter-
vals of ease during a painful illness ; and how
another had been written in sorrow, and bore
the marks of a grieving though not a hopeless
" And those exquisite lines, * My hour is
past,' " said Evelyn, timidly ; ** v^ere you un-
happy when you wrote them ?"
" Not unhappy, but sad. The bitterness of
my sorrow had passed away — (some months
before I had lost my mother) — and it had left
behind it a mild but not unpleasing melancholy.
I have always thought this frame of mind one
of the best — the most disposed to virtue of
which our nature is capable. The spirit comes
EVELYN HARCOURT. 133
out refined, as it were, — chastened from the
sorrow that has been oppressing it, and up-
springs with a fresher and more divine impulse
towards the heaven whence it derives its
hope. It experiences that calm, that serene
consciousness of superiority, of which we are
always sensible when we are able for the time
to raise ourselves above the petty concerns,
the debasing interests of this world, and com-
mune with higher things — a proof, if any were
wanting, that the true nature of the spirit —
its real purpose and destiny — is to rise !...The
heart is also, at the same time, more humble,
more tender, more open to the gentle in-
fluences of compassion and sympathy. It has
suffered ; and to it all sufferers are sacred ; it
regards them as friends, for theirs has been
the same struggle — the same experience.... I
believe that such moods of mind — those of
contemplation, perhaps of melancholy, though
not oi gloom — have produced the most elevated
works, the most lofty and pure philosophy
134 EVELYN HARCOURT.
that has enlightened the world. In actual
grief, few can write — few have ever done so.
The mind has enough to do to struggle with
the tempest of its own emotions, and, like the
waving corn, to bend beneath it, that it may
rise again, drooping, but not crushed. It has
enough to do to endure ; it cannot describe its
endurance. The faculty of observation always
implies a certain degree of mental freedom,
of composure ; indeed, I doubt whether any
emotion, whether of a sorrowful or gladsome
nature, were ever successfully portrayed at
the actual time of its existence. It is from
recollection or from imagination that men
chiefly paint; they gather more from the
Past and the Future than from the Present.
The most melancholy work I ever com-
posed . . . . "
" ' Retrospections !' " cried Evelyn, almost
involuntarily; " it is one of my greatest
Mr. Sherborne looked at her and smiled.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 135
" You are a strange persou," said he ;
" you seem to know almost as much about
my works as I do myself. But you afford
another proof of what I was about to observe
— that the happiest and most peaceful out-
ward circumstances oftentimes dispose the
mind to its saddest moods, and that those
who are the most cheerful at heart frequently
incline most to writings that breathe a grave
and searching philosophy. You will perhaps
be surprised to hear that those * Retrospec-
tions' were written during the most lovely
summer I ever remember, when I was full of
health and spirits, free, and at peace. My
time was my own, and I spent it in my own
way — a way that would seem passing strange
" There was a stream near the old farm-house
where I was living, and a picturesque mill. My
mornings were passed chiefly under the shade
of the birch and weeping- willows that overhung
the water. Sometimes I have lingered for a
] 36 EVELYN HARCOURT.
whole day together within hearing of that
mill !...! often catch myself striving to recal
those days — ^the beautiful sights and sounds
that filled my eyes with light and my ears
with melody in that sequestered spot — the
dreamy delight of the summer noons — the
serenity of the evenings — and, above all, the
solemn glory of the calm and illumined night !
...It was that spot that gave rise to ' Retro-
spections r "
Evelyn was silent. Her eyes were full of
tears ; and she half turned away that he might
not see them.
" I fear, I weary you," he said at length ;
" these are not subjects indeed for such a
scene as this."
" Oh, do not say so !" interrupted Evelyn,
for once forgetting her timidity in the eager-
ness of the moment. " I could go on listening
for ever" ....
As she raised her glorious eyes towards
him, he perceived the tears that hung upon
EVELYN HARCOURT. 137
their fringes, and be gazed upon her with a
surprise not unmixed with compassion.
** Surely the life you lead must be very
distasteful to you," he said at length. " Yours
is not a mind to interest itself in the frivolous
occupations, the worse than frivolous objects,
of the society you move in ! . . . Can it be so ?'*
" You will despise me, I know," she re-
plied, with ingenuousness ; " but I fear it does,
or, at least, has done. But, oh ! how paltry
— how unprofitable, does the life I have lately
led seem to me now !"
" Strive then to render it as little so as
possible. You seem strangely to have escaped
the pollution of society hitherto ; you may do
so still. Teach yourself to look at the things
which surround you in their true light ; not
as they are generally regarded. Look to their
" You remind me of what was said to me
some time ago by a sister of mine, far supe-
rior to myself — ' Think of the end !* "
138 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" She was right. The end must be the
point to aim at, where all life is clearly but
the means to it, a preparation for it. I seem
to be takino: strano^e liberties with one I know
SO little, but it is partly your own fault ; you
have encouraged me to talk to you in this
manner. If I weary you, you must stop
There was no fear of her being wearied.
Swiftly — too swiftly — passed the moments,
whilst he continued to speak of those grave
and lofty themes in which his soul delighted ;
and she listened entranced !
How strange was their discourse ! How
passing strange would it have seemed to those
assembled there ! They were in the midst of
mirth, and glitter, and frivolity — the world was
before them and around them ; but their talk
was of things above the world — the dim and
the unseen — the mighty and undiscoverable
Future, Never perhaps had such words been
uttered in that spot before ! — never certainly
EVELYN HARCOURT. 139
in the midst of such an assemblage !... Strange
power of the Spirit, that can elevate it above
material things, that it may wander in regions
where it cannot always rest !
At length, however, Evelyn was recalled to
the scene around her ; for in the midst of her
conversation with Mr. Sherborne, she per-
ceived the Duke approaching. There was no
escape this time. In vain she strove to avoid
his eye — to move in a contrary direction — he
had soon made his way to her, and, with a
glance of satisfaction at the bouquet which
she held in her hand, he began to pay his
usual homage of hackneyed and tiresome com-
pliments with more than his usual self-suffi-
ciency. But she was not in a mood to receive
either them or himself very graciously ; never
had she felt so little disposed to look favour-
ably on him ; never had she been so struck
with the frivolity, the fadeur of those petits
riens he was supposed to utter with so much
grace. She could hardly listen to him with
140 EVELYN HARCOURT.
common politeness, and her weariness and
preoccupation were so apparent that at last
even he could not fail to be struck with them.
Finding it impossible to elicit from her
more than the shortest and most absent re-
plies, he at length determined to try the
effect of pique upon her. Leaving her
abruptly, he devoted himself for the rest of
the day to the beautiful Lady Katherine
Stanhope, little dreaming how unaffectedly
grateful Evelyn felt to him for doing so, since
it afforded her the happiness of another short
half-hour's conversation with Mr. Sherborne,
whose movements she had anxiously watched
during the prosing of the Duke, fearful lest,
in replying to the greetings of one after
another of his friends, he should move away
entirely out of her reach.
In the course of the conversation which
took place between them afterwards, he men-
tioned some grave, and one or two even ab-
struse works, which he strongly recommended
EVELYN HARCOURT. 141
her to read, conceiring they might be useful
to a mind ardent and inquiring as hers seemed
to be. He told her the effect they had pro-
duced upon his own, when, as was now her
case, the vast regions of knowledge lay un-
discovered before him, and he had paused, as
it were, on their confines, with a spirit burn-
ing to explore their glowing paths, yet doubt-
ful where to enter or what clue to follow ! . . .
And, whilst he spoke thus, such was the
gentleness of his tone, the simplicity of his
manner, that she forgot who it was that was
addressing her ; his celebrity, his genius — she
felt, as it were, raised for the moment to his
level, and possessed of a mind capable of en-
tering into and comprehending his.
That evening, a powerful interest, a sweet
and mysterious sympathy, sprang up between
the beautiful girl and the lofty and meditative
philosopher ! From that day, they understood
one another, and a new and bright era com-
menced in the life of one of them.
142 EVELYN HARCOURT.
i suoi pensieri in lui dormir non ponno.
And from that hour did she with earnest thought
Je suis au desespoir que 1' amour me contraigne
A pousser des soupirs
" Strange !" said Arthur Sherborne, as he
rode homewards, suffering his horse to saunter
on as it listed — " Strange ! that such a mind
should spring up, as it were, untaught ! un-
tutored ! . . . . This world is full of mysteries,
but such as this is perhaps as strange as
any .... How mistaken I was in her ! — and it
is not the first time my judgment has thus
erred. I fancied her vain, worldly, ambi-
EVELYN HARCO JRT. 143
tious. . . .Wdl ! it is humiliating to one like
me to discover what she is !
*' Strange, indeed ! — How one longs to know
the reason of such vast mental disproportion
as one sees every where around ! — to learn
what shall be the destiny, the scope, if I may
so term it, of some minds hereafter ! There
does seem to be as vast a distance between
individual minds amon^r men as we mio^ht
fancy to exist between the angels and the
highest of our species.
" Oh ! that we could look beyond the veil ! —
but none ever did so ... . and the wisdom of
thus limiting our vision is so evident, that it
should satisfy even those who have not faith
and submission to wait without a question.
" One thing is sure ; whatever may be our
lot above, it is above we should aspire whilst
here. No spirit ever soared too much ; none
can become less fit for heaven by keeping
heaven in view.
** I am orlad I have seen her. What a mass
144 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of follies, and worldliness, and vanity that
has sickened one's very soul, does the sight of
such a creature redeem in one's eyes ! — so
simple, so earnest, so pure !
*' But she will lose her freshness . . . .young
as she is, she can never withstand the de-
basinof influences around her. How she has
continued what she is, up to this time, is in-
conceivable to me ! But there are some
spirits that Heaven does seem peculiarly to
nourish and inspire with its own truth.
" What a sin to sacrifice her to any of the
heartless roues that are hemming her in ! . .
yet such will be her fate, no doubt... She will
be forced into it ; for Lady Truro, if I mistake
not, is ambitious amongst the most ambitious
. . . The Duke of Shetland, perhaps. . .Yes . .
•' How different was her manner to me to-
day from what it has been of late ! What
can be the cause?. ...not caprice ; — she is in-
capable of that ! . . Perhaps, Lady Truro may
object to my acquaintance ! . . . yet why ?
EVELYN HARCOURT. 145
The World's voice — fashion — is for me, and
I suspect her ear is open to no other . . . It
is possible indeed that she may fear .... but
I have given her no cause ; and every one
knows I am not a man to marry !
"How radiant that countenance! how happy !
Never have I beheld her look so beautiful as
to-day .... Her spirit was awakened as I have
never seen it before !
" And I will continue to awaken it, if I have
the power. Yes ; it is worth much to arrest
even but for a time the progress of the evil
that is hanging over her — to protect one so
innocent, so helpless ....
"Never did I meet before with so ingenuous
a mind — one so utterly ignorant of guile, so
unsuspicious of evil ! . . . One may gaze into
its clear depths as into a glassy lake, and see
all calm and serene below. And just as the
soft breath of the west wind gently ripples
the surface of such tranquil waters,. so does
her soul tremble and thrill with emotion at
VOL. I. H
1 46 EVELYN HARCOURT.
every noble thought, every inspiring idea,
every generous and enthusiastic sentiment
.... What ecstasy to awaken such in one
single immortal being ! to call forth tones of
melody which have remained unuttered before !
— -to have the power, as to-day, by one word
to raise a soul far above this miry world on
which our feet tread ! . . .
"How her beautiful spirit answered to every
touch !....once, her eyes filled with tears —
I am sure it was so ! When I spoke of the
summer I passed at Blenden .... Perhaps
she felt at that moment how heartless, how
worldly her cousin but no ! She is far 'too
guileless herself to read the heart of Lady
Truro ! — that heart is at present to her a
sealed book — and long, long may it continue
so ! . . . . She loves her too — loves her with all
the warmth and gratitude of her own ardent
affections. . . .And it may be years before she
discovers the true nature of a worldly heart !
Well, be it so !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 147
" Will she read the books I spoke of ?...She
means to do so. — She was sincere in her pro-
mises, at least ! . . . .
"We shall see "
Such were the thoughts that passed through
the mind of Arthur Sherborne, as he slowly
returned towards London ; whilst many a
brilliant equipage, filled with gaily-dressed
ladies and sleepy children, rolled by him un-
heeded on its way to the great city.
From this time, Evelyn found no difficulty
in conversing with Mr. Sherborne ; she had
plenty to say to him about the books she had
been reading, plenty of questions to ask and
difficulties to submit to him ! He found she
had indeed kept her word about the works he
had recommended her to read. She had pro-
cured them all the very day after her conver-
sation with him.
As for Lady Truro, she could make no
] 48 EVELYN HARCOURT.
thing of the change that had come over her
young cousin all at once. Evelyn seemed to
be always reading now — always poring over
books — not novels, nor anything of a light or
entertaining description, but the driest and
most uninteresting productions that could be
imagined. Lady Truro set it all down to
caprice, as she invariably did every thing that
was incomprehensible to her ; but it was a
caprice of a very strange sort, and one that
she sincerely hoped would soon pass off; for it
was not very likely to increase Evelyn's chance
of making a brilliant match this year ; and
indeed, in her opinion, her spirits were already
beginning to be affected by so much dry study.
In the mean time, she herself continued
feverish and unwell; and Evelyn could not
help suspecting that mind was in some way
connected with her malady, and that there
was some inward anxiety continually preying
upon hers, which prevented her from rallying
as she ought to do.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 149
Lord Truro was less than ever at home;
hut there was reason to believe that, on one
occasion lately, a serious dispute of some kind
had taken place between him and his wife.
He had darted out of the house in a state of
great apparent excitement, and she had retired
to her own room, where she had remained alone
during the rest of the evening, upon the plea
of indisposition, refusing even to admit Eve-
lyn. Evelyn had naturally felt uneasy at this,
and she had questioned Deschamps; but
Deschamps could tell nothing positive, though
she sighed, and winked, and talked a great
deal about the '* torrent de larmes " that
Madame la Marquise had shed, and her own
fears that Monsieur le Marquis was " ires
mauvais sujet /"
The next morning, when Evelyn indistinctly
alluded to the scene that had taken place,
Lady Truro silenced her at once, by begging
in the most earnest manner that she would
never make the slightest allusion to it again
150 EVELYN HARCOURT.
— never even mention that evening in her
" And I am to see you wretched and
anxious !" returned Evelyn, with considerable
warmth, " and yet to remain even more igno-
rant of the cause than Deschamps. I am to
be made a stranger of, in short, as though I
were indifferent whether you were happy or
miserable ! But I can guess I — I know very
well that Lord Truro...."
" Hush, hush !" cried her cousin, impera-
tively. " Not a word about Lord Truro,
You know nothing, and you must continue to
know nothing." Then, taking Evelyn's hand
in her own, she added in a softer voice, and
not without some emotion, " I appreciate all
your kindness, your affectionate regard for
me ; and trust me, my love, I would more
gladly open my heart to you, than you would
listen to what I might disclose ; but it is out
of the question ; and I am wrong even to
allude thus remotely to the subject. You
EVELYN HARCOURT. 151
must be kind to me in my own way. You
must bear with me as I am. You must bear
to see me anxious and wretched, (for I am
both) and not inquire the cause."
Since that time, Lady Truro's spirits had
been exceedingly variable, and her strength
had appeared to diminish. She was obliged
to give up the office of chaperon altogether,
and Evelyn was entrusted to the care of Lady
Belharris and one or two others, whose posi-
tion in society was pre-eminent, and whose
prudence could be relied upon. By this
means, Lady Truro continued in ignorance of
her attachment to Mr. Sherborne ; an attach-
ment which could not possibly have passed
unnoticed by her, had she continued to ac-
company her young cousin into the world.
The fervour of Evelyn's love was indeed
each day increasing ; but the dream of happi-
ness in which she had of late been indulging
was beginning to be chequered by moments
of anxious fear, of miserable uncertainty, as
152 EVELYN HARCOURT.
to his feelings. Was she beloved ?.... Alas !
she had no reason to think so ! That Mr.
Sherborne liked her, that she had excited an
interest in his mind far greater than he felt
for a mere common acquaintance, that he
took pleasure in meeting her, in talking to
her, she felt convinced ; but more than this,
alas ! she dared not hope.
In vain she sought to discover his feelings
with regard to his cousin. Lady Annette.
That she loved him, there could not be the
smallest doubt : Evelyn had been introduced
to her, and she had seen enough of her man-
ner to Mr. Sherborne, clear-sighted as she
was now become, to feel convinced that love
was not wanting, on that side at least. On
the other.... she could not tell.
Sometimes would come a moment of ex-
quisite hope ! A smile from him, a look, a
word of kindness, would raise her into such a
heaven of joy, that she would feel as if no-
thing could ever depress her again — nothing
EVELYN HARCOURT. 153
shake her confidence ! But then dark mo-
ments too soon succeeded, and her cheek
would burn and her spirit shrink within her
at the consciousness of her own love, and the
terrible fear lest that love should be unre-
turned. Who can describe the shame of
these sensations ? the contempt of herself, the
utter prostration of spirit she occasionally
And then would come intervals of pride,
towering pride ; when she resolved to treat him
with coldness ; to prove to him that he was
nothing to her; that, if A^ were indifferent,
others were at her feet !
She often wondered at herself for the state
of thoughtless happiness in which she had
revelled during the first weeks of their ac-
quaintance ; when, ignorant as yet of her own
love, she had rested in the dreamy delight of
the present, and never cast a thought beyond,
when the mere hope of seeing him to-morrow
had been joy enough for to-day ; and to read
154 EVELYN HARCOURT.
his works, and ponder over every word he had
uttered, was sufficient to fill her soul with
light and gladness ! Now,.,-.
" I could bear it all," would she say to
herself, when brooding in solitude over her
own bitter reflections, " were it not that I
feel as if I had been guilty of a crime !...And
yet — what wrong have I done ? I know not.
Weak I have been ; but I cannot accuse my-
self of one single thought, or act, that is
worthy to be condemned. How is it, then,
that I have sunk so low in my own esteem ?
Surely, I am in fact less despicable now than
I was before I knew him ! My mind has
been ennobled ; my objects have become less
trifling, less vain, less worldly ; a portion of
his spirit has passed within me, and I am
better than I was ! Why cannot I always
think so ?
'' I cannot blame hhn. No ; whatever I
may suffer, I can accuse him of nothing. He
has never, directly or indirectly, sought to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 155
win my love. — And yet I love him.... how I
blush to acknowledge it even to myself !
" Sometimes I long to open my heart to
some one, to seek for counsel, for sympathy.
But who is there that could afford it? — not
Barberina, certainly. She has enough to bear
in her own sorrows ; sorrows in which I am
allowed no share!. ..and she could not enter
" Perhaps, if Helen were here .... but I
know not whether even to her I could brintr
myself to confess my weakness, my degrada-
tion. — And yet, surely there can be no degra-
dation in loving one like him — one so far
above all the rest of the world ! Who but
must worship such astonishing intellect — such
lofty and inspiring genius ! . . . Ah ! to love
such a being must ennoble one's own nature :
then what would it be to possess his love"...
156 EVELYN HARCOURT.
With no distracting world to call her off
What did that sudden sound bespeak?
* * * *
There sate a lady.
It is that settled, ceaseless gloom
The fabled Hebrew wanderer bore,
That will not look beyond the tomb,
And cannot hope for rest before.
The boys had left Oriel, and Helen was
astonished to find how much she missed them.
She had participated in most of their amuse-
ments ; she had ridden, and walked, and
fished with them ; and she had found little or
no time during their stay for those quiet
readino's to which she had been accustomed.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 157
And now she found that she had strangely
got out of the habit of these. If she tried
to fix her attention to some book that had
formerly interested her, she perceived her
thoughts insensibly wandering back to the
events of the last few weeks, and with a keen
and continual regret she wished she could
recal them ; and, what was very remarkable,
she found she thought less of the cousins
whom she had known so long, and who were
really become so companionable, than she did
of Captain Percy, their uncle, whom till lately
she had never beheld.
Captain Percy was a half-brother of Mrs.
Harry Bridge's, and many years her junior.
He was one of those persons who seem to
possess a peculiar charm, a nameless some-
thing, that irresistibly attract the good will
of strangers, and command the affection of
friends. He was the most popular man in
his regiment, and he was almost worshipped
by his own family. Even Mrs. Harry, crabbed
158 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and queer as she was, delighted in him ; and
no one had any thing but a kind word to say
for Fred Percy. He was so high-minded, so
kind-hearted, so generous ! Poor though he
was, he yet, somehow or other, always con-
trived to keep a few pounds in reserve to lend
to a friend in case of need. If any one wanted
help or kindness, Fred Percy was sure to be
applied to ; his heart overflowed with bene-
volence and good-will towards all the world,
and it was literally out of his nature to do a
selfish or an unfriendly thing.
It was remarkable how completely he gave
the tone to his regiment ; he had acquired a
kind of authority by the mere influence of his
amiable and excellent qualities. His word
was a species of law. " Fred Percy says so
and so," was sufficient to establish any thing
as an undoubted fact. If Fred Percy thought
proper to notice such a one, it was a signal
for his brother officers to vie with each other
in noticing him too ; and if Fred Percy gave
EVELYN HARCOURT. 159
it as his opinion that such a step ought to
be taken, no objection that could be raised
against it was allowed to have the slightest
weight. In short, no one was ever so much
liked as Fred Percy, and no one ever deserved
better to be so.
Without being strictly handsome, he had
one of the pleasantest and most attractive
countenances in the world, bright as the sun-
shine, and open as the day. Nature had
written his character in her own clear and
undeniable language on his countenance ; and,
to crown the whole, he was gifted with one
of the most melodious voices in the world, a
very captivating thing by the way, whether
in man or woman, and one which not unfre-
quently stands in lieu of good looks.
Perhaps, after this description, my readers
will not be surprised, whatever Helen might
be, that she found her thoughts more fre-
quently recurring to Captain Percy, and his
sayings and doings during the last fortnight,
160 EVELYN HARCOURT.
than to those graver studies in which she had
formerly taken so much delight. During this
fortnight, they had been almost constant com-
panions. He had come, at first, intending
only to remain a day or two ; but he had been
so much pleased with Oriel and its inhabi-
tants, as well as with the various amusements
it afforded, that he had gladly accepted the
hospitable invitation of the old couple to re-
main as long as he possibly could ; and nothing
but a positive engagement, which he could not
forego, had induced him to depart when he
did. Helen's soft blue eyes and gentle
smile were becoming each day more capti-
vating to him, and he would willingly have
lingered yet for many a day by her side. On
the banks of the clear stream, or hanging
idly over the rustic bridge, or riding, or wan-
dering far into the woods, or making excur-
sions to Bridge Priory, and other lovely spots
in the neighbourhood, they had been ever
together ; and such companionship soon pro-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 6 1
duces intimacy, and intimacy interest. They
learnt thus more of one another's heart and
mind in a single fortnight, than they would
have done for years in a crowded city ; and
all they learnt tended to draw them closer
together. It ended in their separating with
great regret on both sides ; on his, perhaps,
the most, because he could better analyze his
feelings than she could hers.
Since his departure, every thing seemed to
have undergone a change in her eyes — every
thing had become " stale, flat, and unpro-
fitable." She felt a void, greater even than the
loss of Evelyn had occasioned, and it was the
more irksome, because she could not under-
stand, or rather, to speak more correctly, she
would not admit to herself the cause of it.
Her chief pleasure now consisted in taking
the longest possible walks in all directions
round Oriel. It was pleasant to come home
quite tired out, for that generally ensured her
peaceful sleep afterwards ; and she had lately
162 EVELYN HARCOURT.
been initiated into the unwelcome secret of
restless and wakeful nights. Evelyn and she
had always been accustomed to ramble about
unattended in every direction around their
sequestered home, and she had no fears.
One beautiful day, when she had wandered
a good deal further than usual, feeling fa-
tigued, she sat down under a hedge to rest
for a short time, and, taking out her book,
opened it with a resolute determination to
read attentively for once. But it would not
do ! In a few minutes, she detected herself
watching the smoke of a neighbouring cot-
tage, as it slowly wreathed itself into the air,
and disappeared in the tranquil expanse ;
whilst her thoughts had flown back to Captain
Percy, and she was recalling, for the hun-
dredth time, the expression of his counte-
nance, and the fervent pressure of his hand,
when he had bidden her farewell.
But, in the midst of her reverie, she was
suddenly startled by hearing a faint low groan
EVELYN HARCOURT. 163
on the other side of the hedge. She listened
attentively. Yes, there was another — a deep
groan, expressive of intense suffering of some
kind, and it sounded like a woman's voice.
She called aloud, inquiring who was there,
and what was the matter ; but, receiving no
reply, she looked round for some aperture, by
which she might penetrate to the other side
of the hedge, and, perceiving a gate at some
little distance, she ran to it. In another mo-
ment she was in a meadow, and close to some
one sitting on the ground ; a lady, apparently
to judge by her dress ; but the face of this
person was totally concealed by her bonnet,
as she bent her head down nearly upon her
knees. Helen paused a moment, uncertain
how to address her ; but it was clear that she
was in distress of some kind, and the gentle
girl's desire to aid her soon overcame her
" You are unhappy," said she; " can I do
nothing to comfort you ?"
164 EVELYN HARCOURT.
The person thus addressed raised her head
at these words, and disclosed to view a face
by no means devoid of traces of beauty, but
so care-worn, so expressive of suffering, that
it was painful to look upon. She fixed her
eyes gloomily on Helen, and replied with
apparent effort —
'^ You mean kindly, no doubt ; but pass
on ; no one can comfort me."
" Do not say so," returned Helen, touched
by the expression of hopeless misery these
words conveyed ; " if I cannot comfort, may
I not sympathize with you ?"
" You cannot sympathize with what you
" I do not wish to intrude upon your grief,
believe me ; but surely...."
" Young lady, your face is gentle," inter-
rupted the other, " and I can believe you
would gladly soothe any sorrow if you could ;
but I would not grieve your heart — no ! — nor
shock your young eyes, by the knowledge and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 165
sight of what one human being may suffer,
and not die !"
She rose as she uttered these words, and
Helen, awed by her manner, continued silent.
She felt as though she had been guilty of
presumption in talking of sympathy to one of
whose grief she knew nothing.
" Am I wrong in imagining it is Miss
Eridge I am addressing?" inquired the
stranger, courteously. Then, as Helen ti-
midly assented, she continued —
" Are you not unusually far from your own
own home ? — can I be of any use to you ? If
you want a guide, I can easily furnish you
'' Oh, no !" replied Helen ; " I can find
my own way back ; I am accustomed to take
long walks alone. But is it possible that you
live near here, madam ? I thought there was
no house within ten miles of Oriel, of which
we did not know the owners — at least, by
166 EVELYN H ARCOURT.
" I am little known, and I do not wish to
be more so," replied the other hastily ; — then,
conscious that there was something ungracious
in this reply, she added gently, " My abode
is an humble one, and it does not even belong
to me — you may have heard of it ! — the
" Oh yes, I know it. — They are excellent
" They are. There is my domicile, chosen
for the sake of its retirement — its privacy.
My wish — my object — is to be alone."
As she uttered these words in a tone of
cold and concentrated misery, that fell with
a chill upon Helen's spirit, she moved on a
few paces, as though desirous to depart. A
moment after, however, she paused, and
said, with painful effort, ** Though I have
refused your sympathy so churlishly, as
it must appear to you, I am not ungrate-
ful for it. Yours is a kind heart, I am
sure; and I trust that sorrow, when it
EVELYN HARCOURT. 167
comes to you, may be of a gentle species,
softening jour spirit, but not blighting it. —
'^ And am I to see no more of a neiofhbour
I have discovered thus accidentally ?"
" No — do not attempt it. You are too
young yet to grow familiar with the sight of
grief. Go home — go home, young lady ; and,
as you look upon the blue sky above you,
pray earnestly that you may never learn to
grieve with a sorrow that not even a placid
scene like this could soothe."
She slowly departed ; leaving Helen full of
compassion, wonder, and curiosity, to know
more of so sino^ular a beinof. She watched
her till she had disappeared among the trees,
and then turned in the contrary direction,
pondering within herself what species of
affliction it could be that thus defied all con-
solation, and refused all confidence.
As she sauntered along, lost in thought, she
came rather suddenly upon a neat, white-
168 EVELYN HARCOURT.
washed farm-house, the door of which stood
invitingly open. Two or three children were
playing near, and a respectable-looking woman
was nursing her baby on the threshold.
Helen paused ; for it struck her that here she
might learn something more of the singular
being who had so strongly excited her inter-
est. Being invited to enter, and having ac-
cepted the offer of a draught of milk, she
described her meeting with the strange lady,
and inquired who she was.
The woman shook her head at first, and
looked solemn and mysterious ; but, being
pressed to reply, she told, by degrees, all she
knew of the stranger.
" The lady's name was Howard," she said,
" and she had been living there about four-
teen months. She had come alone — without
even a servant, and had first spent a few
weeks at the little inn at LI . But, not
liking the noise, nor the dirt of the place, — (it
was dirty, every one knew) — and wishing to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 169
get into some house where she could be waited
upon by the family, she had applied to the
Penrhyns, who had at first refused to receive
her, knowing nothing of her. But she had
at last somehow got over old Master Penrhyn,
who was a kind-hearted old soul, 'specially
to those in trouble ! and the missis not much
less, for that matter ; — and they had taken in
the poor soul. She had two small rooms to
herself — astonishin snug ! and she paid for
them, the missis said, as reg'lar as the clock !
She lived quite alone ; and 'times for weeks
together, she would not leave the house;
others, she would wander about the place,
like as it seemed she had a-done to-day — and
sit under the trees a-bemoanino' of herself,
till it made a body 'most foolish to hear
" And did nobody know the reason of her
" No ! not a creature. Some thought she
was not altogether in her right mind, though
VOL. I. 1
1 70 EVELYN HARCOURT.
quite harmless, poor lady ; but many con-
sidered it was more like something on her
conscience, that wouldn't let her rest, day nor
night. Her spirits varied too. 'Times, when
the fits was not on her, she would be cheerful
like, a-noticing of Mrs. James's little folks, and
in particklar the babby ! She was very partial
to the babby !"
" Did no one ever come to see her?"
" No one, as was ever heard tell on. She
couldn't abide a strange face, and she seemed
to have no folks of her own. The missis
thought she were a widder, for she always
wear black — but no one could say positive,
for she never spoke of her own matters. But
her low fits ! Oh ! they was dreadful !
'Times she would sit in a stupor, like, and take
no notice; and 'times she would cry, fit to
break her heart ; and 'times she would moan !
The moaning was the worst, because that did
seem unnatural, like, and not what a Christian
should do. But every one was sorry for her ;
EVELYN HARCOURT. 171
for she was quite harmless, and very thankful,
the family said, to be let stay with them."
Such were the chief particulars that Helen
collected from the farmer's wife; and they
inspired her with a strange desire to minister
to the comfort of one so forlorn. The whole
manner and appearance of the lady — (for
that she was one Helen had no doubt) — did
not convey the idea of anything like insanity.
Her language was good, her manner calm,
and even commanding ; and there w^as some-
thing in her whole demeanour which betokened
superiority of mind as well as station.
During the rest of that day, Helen did little
else but ponder over this strange adventure,
and consider wuthin herself how she could
contrive, without intrusion, to show kindness
and sympathy to this lonely being ; for, that
sympathy would end by becoming welcome,
even if it were not so at first, she could not
but feel certain, in spite of her assurances to
1 72 EVELYN HARCOURT.
After much thought, she determined, in
the first place, to make acquaintance with the
Penrhyns, excellent people whom she knew
well by name, though they lived too far from
Oriel to admit of the friendly intercourse
and constant exchange of visits that passed
between the Erido^es and all those in their
immediate neighbourhood. It was not long
before she had established herself on a most
amicable footing with this w^orthy family,
which consisted of many members of all ages,
living together in a primitive and indeed
almost patriarchal manner. She confided to
" the missis" — as the old Mrs. Penrhyn was
generally called — her earnest desire to be of
some use to their afflicted inmate ; and the
good woman fully entered into the wish.
" They were all fond of the poor lady,"
she said ; *' for she was a gentle, harmless
creature, and whatever might have been her
faults in past times, she suffered heart-sorrow
enough for them now — there could be no
EVELYN HARCOURT. 173
doubt of that ! For her own part, she had
once believed her crazed, but she thought so
no longer ; so far from that, she looked upon
her with peculiar reverence, as one whom God
had thought fit to afflict above most, doubtless
for His own wise ends. She was now inclined
to think it was more owing to constitutional
low spirits, than to any particular cause, that
she grieved !"
Helen soon discovered that the Recluse was
fond of flowers ; and the day of this discovery
was a happy one to her ! There were flowers
in the Penrhyns' garden, to be sure, and Mrs.
James's and Mrs. Owen's children would often
gather her some ; but there were better ones
at Oriel ; and she should have the best. Helen
might now be seen constantly hastening along
in the direction of Wynnesland with a basket
containing fruit and flowers ; — and though it
was a long, long way to walk, and it had
become dull from its familiarity, she found
herself more frequently bending her steps in
174 EVELYN HARCOURT.
that direction than in any other. It was so
pleasant to think she was the means of afford-
ing even so slight a gratification to the soli-
tary sufferer ! Her good offices, too, might
not stop here.
They did not. " The missis " one day hinted
that she thought a few books might be an
amusement to Mrs. Howard ; " she had but
few of her own, and she must know them all
by heart." The next morning Helen arrived
with a packet of books — the best she could
select from the Oriel library ; and Mrs. James
undertook to leave them casually, as it were,
in the lady's room when she took up her
There was good news for Helen two days
after ; some of the books had been read, and
Mrs. Howard had inquired who had left them.
Perhaps she had seen the Eridge coat- of- arms
in them — but she seemed to know they came
from a distance. Encouraged by this success,
Helen brought more, when those had been
EVELYN H ARCOURT. 175
read ; and oh ! how happy was she in these
expeditions ! She was contributing to the
comfort of a fellow-creature, and one so sorely
stricken ! This new pursuit, this new interest,
had served to divert her mind from itself; she
no longer felt the time hang heavy, nor the place
uninteresting ; she no longer recurred to her
separation from Evelyn with bitterness, nor
to the idea of Captain Percy with something
almost amounting to shame. She had hope
for every body; — hope that Evelyn might
come out of the furnace of the world bright
and unchanged — and as for Captain Percy ! —
she had hopes connected with him too, but
they were of so vague a nature, that perhaps
she could scarcely have defined them even to
One day, when she made her appearance at
Wynnesland with her usual basket of flowers
and books, she was not a little surprised to
find that the Recluse had desired to see her
the next time she called. She had inquired
176 EVELYN HARCOURT.
who it was that brought so many things with
such kind regularity, and when informed that
it was Miss Bridge herself, she had betrayed
considerable emotion, and even shed a few
The interview was touching. The young
girl felt timid in the presence of one upon
whom she had in a manner forced obligations,
and the thanks expressed by the other were
painful to her to listen to. She rejoiced when
it was over. The ice was now broken, and
henceforth, she trusted, they would be friends.
And who could tell what she might not be
able to effect, in raising that crushed spirit ?
The more she saw of the lady, the more she
felt convinced that her position in life had been
one of great respectability; though nothing
could be more simple than her dress, her ap-
pearance, and everything belonging to her.
She was essentially lady-like. It was clear
that her associates had not been people of low
minds, nor even of inferior station.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 177
Helen's visits to her soon became regular.
There were days indeed, and these were many,
when the dark fits were upon her, when even
Helen could not be admitted ; — but the Pen-
rhyns thought — could it be fancy ? — that the
intervals of peace were becoming somewhat
longer ! Oh ! what happy news for Helen !
Their interviews would have seemed singular
to most people. Mrs. Howard never spoke of
herself, or at least but rarely : in the presence
of her young companion, she always made a
strong effort to appear cheerful — to converse
upon such topics as might be interesting at
her age. One so gentle, so innocent as Helen
should have no shadow cast upon her spirit by
the forlorn being whom she had striven to
benefit. At first, these efforts had been in-
expressibly painful to the Recluse, but the
very struggles they had cost her had, without
her being conscious of it, proved beneficial.
It was precisely such exertion — such tem-
porary restraint — that her mind required ; —
178 EVELYN HARCOURT.
it had too long been permitted to prey upon
itself; and the continual indulgence, nay, the
encouragement of her morbid melancholy, had
tended unspeakably to increase the malady
under which it laboured. Now, there was a
stimulus, a motive for exertion ; gratitude
urged her to conceal all traces of the trials
which were wearing her heart and brain, and
to reward the disinterested benevolence of her
young friend, by allowing her to imagine her
presence was a comfort.
And real benefit soon followed where the
semblance of it had been. The poor woman
began to look forward with pleasure and expec-
tation to these visits of Helen's, and to feel them
less and less of a restraint. She still indeed
resolutely withheld all confidence from her,
and avoided as carefully as ever all allusion
to her own former life ; but she began to take
an interest in the concerns of her companion,
and a pleasure in hearing all that related to
her, and those dear to her.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 179
And who can tell what sublime feelings of
gratitude and love glowed in the bosom of
the innocent Helen, as she perceived that her
efforts had not been wholly vain — that she
had in some measure smoothed the rugged
path of this solitary being — that she was be-
coming necessary to her !
It is singular that, whilst all mankind are
searching for happiness in countless varieties
of modes, and that the universal cry, the
craving of all, is happiness, still happiness ! so
few should seek it in the only manner which
almost invariably ensures it. If there be one
abiding dispensation of Providence more beau-
tiful than the rest — one, proving more un-
answerably His love and care for all — it is
that by which He has ordained that benefits
conferred return to those who confer them,
and that, in working out the happiness of the
species, the happiness of the individual shall
ever be foun ^ . Yet, the general conduct of
mankind would seem to imply that exactly the
180 EVELYN HARCOURT.
reverse were the case, and that individual
happiness were totally inconsistent with that
of the mass.
Mrs. Howard was sitting one morning by her
open window, with her little work-table be-
fore her, thinking of Helen, and wondering
whether she would call that day ; when Helen
entered with a somewhat graver countenance
" Something is wrong," said the lady. " I
see it by your face, my dear. Is any one ill
at Oriel, or have you bad news from Miss
*' No ; but I am sad to think that I shall see
you no more for a time. I am going away."
*' Going !" cried the other, letting her work
fall from her hands, and fixing her eyes upon
her companion with an expression of singular
incredulity — '^ going ! no, no ! I am not to
lose you !"
" For a time — only for a time. I shall
EVELYN HARCOURT. 181
soon be back ; but I cannot refuse to go when
it is to see Evelyn — to wish her good bye.
And she so unhappy too!"
And Helen proceeded to relate that Lady
Truro was in a very bad state of health —
Evelyn was extremely anxious about her —
quite uneasy ; and the doctors had ordered
her abroad. But, before they set off, (for of
course her favourite cousin was to accom-
pany her) Evelyn wished to see Helen, to bid
her good bye. Lady Truro would not hear of
her leaving her, or she would have come down
herself to Oriel for a few days, to bid fare-
well to her dear parents, as she affectionately
called them ; but if Helen could come for a fort-
night to London, it would be such a delight !
She had quite set her heart upon Helen's
"Grandpapa has settled that I am to go
on Thursday. Who knows when I may see
her again ?"
No answer was returned, and the needle
1 8 2 EVELYN H ARCOURT.
was still drawn out at intervals ; but Helen's
heart swelled as she perceived the tears trick-
ling down those very furrows, which always
appeared to her as though they had been pro-
duced by incessant weeping.
" I am grieved to leave you, madam," said
she ; " but it will not be for long."
Mrs. Howard gently laid down her work,
rose, and leaned out of the window for a few
moments. Then, feeling the old sinking of
the spirit, the well-known sensation of de-
spair coming over her, she retreated into the
next room, and, locking the door behind her,
battled energetically with the foe. Helen
listened anxiously. There were two or three
stifled sobs — an occasional faint groan, like
that which had arrested her attention the first
day of their meeting, — and then, all was still.
In about ten minutes, the door was unlocked,
and the lady came forth, to all appearance
calm, but with her countenance pale as death,
and a peculiar dark circle round the eyes,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 183
which Helen had sometimes observed before
— but rarely.
She advanced to the table, seated herself,
and quietly resumed her work.
** You are right, my dear, to go," said
she. '* Thursday, you say ; and this is —
'^ Saturday, ma'am. I shall be able to
come here again twice, at least."
" No, my love ; you must not come again."
" Oh, do not say so !" cried Helen, earnestly.
" I am unwilling enough to leave you, as it is.
Do not make our separation longer than it
need he !"
" The dark fit is coming," said Mrs. Howard,
whilst a strange expression passed over her
features. *' It is coming — and then — you
She paused, looked upward, and pressed
her hands upon her bosom, like one struggling
for breath ; but in a moment it had passed
184 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Helen perceived that she was putting a
mighty check upon herself.
'- Let the dark fit come," said she, in a
soft, low voice, " but do not drive me from
you. Have you no confidence in me? — am I
not your friend ?"
" Child ! " said Mrs. Howard, solemnly.
" You are — you have been — a friend to me,
such as I never thought to possess in this
world ; and I will not reward your good with
evil. I will not make you wish to shun me."
" I shall never wish that, under any cir-
cumstances," said Helen, gently. " Have I
shunned you hitherto? have I not rather
forced myself upon you — against your will,
The lady clasped her hands together. " But
I tell you that you do not know me !" she ex-
claimed, with sudden violence ; " you do not
know me ; and I would spare you the know-
ledge. I would warn you against myself!
What if I should some day shock you — terrify
EVELYN HARCOURT. 185
your very soul?" She approached her face
to Helen's ear, and in a sharp, hissing whisper,
added—" What if I should be madT
For a moment, Helen recoiled from her
with terror ; but it was only for a moment.
She sau^ the quivering lip, the ashy cheek,
the agony of anxiety with which those eye-
balls strained to catch a glimpse of what was
passing in her mind ; and she resolved, in
spite of all, to be true to the miserable being
whom she had but just begun to lift from the
depths of despair. Her countenance was
beautiful as that of an angel, as she said, in a
low, clear voice —
" Fear not : I shall not be terrified. Even
if madness should come upon you, I will not
forsake you. But you are not mad — only
borne down by sorrow : and if / have scarcely
yet known what sorrow is, may I not better
speak to you of hope ?"
As she uttered these words, the straining
eyes gradually sunk under her gentle gaze.
186 EVELYN HARCOURT.
the clinched hands relaxed, the colour slowly
returned to the ashy and convulsed lips, and
Mrs. Howard hid her face in her hands, and
An hour or two afterwards, these two were
sitting quietly side by side at the open win-
dow, and Helen had just closed the Bible
which she had been reading aloud, when,
looking up in the face of her companion, she
saw that it was calm and serene.
" Yes," said Mrs. Howard, as though in
answer to her mild appeal ; ''I think, I hope,
the dark fit is over — for this day, at least ;
and I can struggle on, since you promise not
to forsake me."
" I do promise it : and for my sake, whilst
I am absent, strive against it, fight with it,
pray against it ! And, above all, do not for-
get these precious words, which have soothed
many a heart as crushed as yours."
As she spoke, she rose to go ; and the lady,
taking her by the hand, blessed her fervently.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 187
Helen never forgot that earnest, solemn
She called twice afterwards before her de-
parture, but neither time was she admitted.
The Penrhyns said the lady had been quiet
since Saturday, but low, very low ; and she
had taken little notice of anything. She
had, however, given the strictest orders that,
if Miss Eridge called again, she should not
be admitted : she could not bear to part from
her, she said.
Helen was grieved — but there was no
remedy. She endeavoured to console herself
by providing as far as she could for the com-
forts of the poor recluse during her absence.
The kind-hearted Mrs. Eridge promised to
send her fruit, flowers, and books, regularly.
Willingly w^ould she have undertaken to go
to her herself; but Mrs. Howard had posi-
tively refused all offers of this kind when
they had been made to her through Helen ;
188 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and there was but too much reason to fear
that any further attempts to press kindness or
sympathy upon her would only do harm,
where good was intended.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 189
And thus it was
That she was pensive, nor perceived
Her occupation ....
Countess. Do not you love him ?
Helen. I confess
Before high Heaven and you
that next unto high Heaven
I love him
I know I love in vain — strive against hope ....
AlVs Well that Ends Well.
The effects of her fond jealousies so grieving
That she shuts up herself ....
Helen could hardly recover from her asto-
nishment at the change which a few months
had effected in Evelyn ; and in nothing did
she appear so much altered as in her spirits.
Instead of the wild and exuberant gaiety which
] 90 EVELYN HARCOURT.
was natural to her, she was now grave and
thoughtful — often preoccupied — sometimes
even melancholy. What could be the reason ?
Lady Truro was now chiefly confined to her
room, and Helen scarcely saw her at all ; in-
deed, her mornings were spent very much
alone ; for Lady Truro, with her usual selfish-
ness, insisted on having Evelyn with her al-
most always till luncheon-time. But, in the
afternoons, when a few of her immediate
clique were admitted to her, the girls were
usually able to be together for some hours,
and sometimes they would take a quiet walk
in the Square ; sometimes they would drive
out (for to the simple Helen the mere sight
of the streets and shops was novelty and
amusement) ; and oftener still they would
ride with Lady Belharris, who had remained
in town thus late, in order to attend the con-
finement of her young sister. Lady Alfred
Montgomery, which was now almost daily
EVELYN HARCOURT. 191
In these rides, they were continually meet-
ing Mr. Sherborne ; and Helen, who had of
course been all eagerness to make his ac-
quaintance, was all admiration of him when
she had done so. Her fondness for his works
had formerly almost equalled that of Evelyn ;
and now that she saw him, she could scarcely
express herself strongly enough in his praise.
" He is charming !" said she to her friend
one day, " perfectly charming. I never saw
such a countenance, such an eloquent, beau-
tiful expression when he speaks ! And what
eyes ! — surely, there never were such eyes
before !...He is so gentle too — so unaffected !
I am quite surprised to find how little afraid
of him I feel. One would never guess from
his manner in society that he were in any way
remarkable ; — he never seems to remember it
liimself. He brings himself down to the
level of the person he is talking to with such
perfect simplicity ! He is so ready to con-
verse on any subject! And when one re-
192 EVELYN HARCOURT.
members what he is Well ! he is a won-
derful man, certainly — wonderful in all ways !
You did not write me half enough in his
" Yet, my fear was that you would think
what I said so absurdly extravagant — so ex-
" It would be quite impossible to exaggerate
about him, it seems to me. He stands alone
— certainly the most extraordinary man of
his day. Surely, all the fine ladies in London
must be raving about him !"
Evelyn was arranging some flowers for
Lady Truro, and her back was turned to
Helen, as she replied, in a tone of the utmost
" Possibly I never heard, it, how-
Helen was surprised at her cold and care-
less manner. She remembered the enthusiastic
admiration she had always formerly expressed
for Mr, Sherborne's works ; and how full of
EVELYN HARCOURT. 193
the gifted author all her early letters had
been ; and she had expected to find in her
one of his most devoted admirers. But Eve-
lyn's manner to him seemed to be decidedly
more reserved than it was to any other person.
Perhaps it might be that she was afraid of
A stransje transformation had come over
her, and one for which there seemed no
possible means of accounting. If she had
grown vain, or worldly, or ambitious, Helen
would not have wondered — if she had
imbibed a taste for dissipation, a dislike
to rational pursuits, it would not have been
surprising ; — but nothing of all this had oc-
curred. In the midst of gaiety and adulation,
she had become sober ; and whilst surrounded
by the glitter and turmoil of society, and
avowedly the reigning belle of the season,
she had first taken to quiet and literary pur-
suits. There must be an explanation to the
phenomenon, a clue to the mystery, Helen
VOL. I. K
194 EVELYN HARCOURT.
felt convinced; and that clue she presently-
stumbled upon by mere accident.
They were riding in the Regent's Park one
evening with Lady Belharris and some others,
when they were joined by Mr. Sherborne,
who came round to Evelyn's side, and, in the
course of conversation with her, asked her
some question about one of the books she
was reading. From what followed, Helen
soon gathered that it was by his advice these
books were studied ; and for the first moment
it only struck her as a little singular that
Evelyn should never have mentioned this to
her ; — but, suddenly, an idea came across
her — a possibility — ^which would account for
all — all the singularities and changes that had
puzzled her so much.
She watched them both narrowly during
the remainder of the ride. Evelyn's manner
was reserved — almost distant — towards Mr.
Sherborne; but her cheek was unusually
flushed, and her eye restless and disturbed ;
EVELYN HARCOURT. 195
and, though she seemed to answer his remarks
with a certain constraint, Helen observed that
she paid not the slightest attention to those
of any other person. She even once or twice
replied quite at random to observations made
by others of the party, so as to excite their
notice and astonishment.
When Mr. Sherborne took his leave too,
Helen, who knew her countenance so well,
perceived that she was moved. The hand she
held out was given awkwardly ; and, after he
was gone, she sank into a kind of reverie,
and made no reply to the farewell salutation
of Lord Haverfordwest, till reminded to do so
by Lady Belharris, who was shocked at her
want of courtesy.
It must be so ; there could be no doubt of it.
" Evelyn, dear ! how cold and forbidding
you are to Mr. Sherborne," observed Helen,
suddenly, when they had returned home.
" Is it possible that you dislike him ?"
196 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Evelyn started, as if she had been struck,
and turned very pale.
" Am I cold?" said she.
The attack was too sudden — she had no time
to parry it — no time to prepare her counte-
nance, nor her reply. Her secret was be-
trayed — or would be immediately.
" I am sure he must be struck with it !'*
continued Helen — " Is it that you dislike
" Dislike him ! — of course not ! Why
should I dislike him ?"
" Ah ! why, indeed ? — why, rather, should
you not like him ? — Evelyn, Evelyn, I strongly
Evelyn blushed to her very temples —
" What do you suspect?" inquired she,
" I see, I need not tell you — and I am
right, am I not ? — Ah ! why did you treat me
with such reserve — such coldness ? — why did
you not tell me how it was with you before,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 197
instead of leaving me to find it out thus by
myself? Was I not capable of sympathy —
of discretion ? — was I not to be trusted ? . . . And
could I blame you for loving such a man?..,"
But Evelyn could not answer. She had
hid her face in her hands, and was weeping
In a short time, however, she had confessed
all ; — her weakness — her shame — her love !
She had longed to tell it all before, but had
been unable. And now — even now — in the
presence of the friend of her childhood — her
more than sister — with whom, till lately, she
had shared every thought — she felt abashed —
humbled. No wonder ! for many a time had
her cheek glowed with shame, even in soli-
tude, at the thought that her love might be —
perhaps was — unreturned !
Helen sought to soothe her by every means
in her power. She could not, however, say
the only thing that Evelyn longed to hear ;
she had, as yet, observed no proof of love on
198 EVELYN HARCOURT.
his part. Interest there evidently was— real
regard — and love might, and probably did,
exist ; but Helen could not say she had seen
it, and she would give no encouragement
where she felt no certainty that encourage-
ment ought to be given.
But, oh ! with what interest, with what
earnest anxiety, did she now watch Mr. Sher-
borne for Evelyn's sake, and how she strove
to discover those proofs of love in him which
her calmer judgment told her she did not
perceive ! There were times, indeed, when
she caught his eyes fixed upon Evelyn, but
the glance was always short, and he soon
turned away to other objects.
Even if there were love on his side, she
feared it could not be the powerful and ex-
clusive devotion that Evelyn ought to in-
spire — that alone could satisfy imperious
affections such as hers.
Lady Alfred Montgomery was now con-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 199
fined, and Lady Belharris was soon going out
of town ; but, in the mean time, she had
arranged a final party of pleasure, which was
to take place previous to her departure, and
to which the girls looked forward with some
eagerness ; Helen, on Evelyn's account, and
Evelyn on her own ; for both knew that Mr.
Sherborne would be there.
This party of pleasure was to be an expe-
dition to ** The Paradise," a place which really
was something like its name, belonging to
Mr. Euston Trevor, a handsome bachelor
about town, and a particular friend of Lady
Belharris's. The party was to be exclusively
hers, and she was to invite all the guests, with
the exception of two or three men whom Mr.
Trevor wished to ask himself. Besides Evelyn
and Helen, there were to be Lady Annette
Sherborne, and a young Mrs. Norman, lately
married, and full of blushes and timidity,
but withal beautiful as a May morning ; for
Mr. Trevor was a notorious admirer of beauty,
200 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and indeed his authority was at all times suf-
ficient to establish the reputation of any
woman as being one in the London world.
He was one of the most agreeable and
popular of roues^ and he really had more good
nature and good feeling than is common to
The day did not begin auspiciously for
Evelyn. After much discussion, it was settled
by Lady Belharris that she should go in Mrs.
Norman's britzska, that lady having undertaken
to convey Lord Haverfordwest and Mr. Fitz-
roy. The truth was, Lord Haverfordwest, a
conceited idiot, without sense or feeling, but
withal a most unexceptionable parti, had
hinted to Lady Belharris that he desired this
arrangement, and she, who was really inter-
ested for Evelyn, and wished nothing better
than to see her well married, according to her
own acceptation of that term, resolved to give
the young Earl every opportunity of pro-
posing to her, feeling quite convinced, as she
EVELYN HARCOURT. 201
did, that the Duke of Shetland never would
do so. This opinion she had more than once
hinted to Ladj Truro, but without in the
smallest degree shaking the confidence of that
lad J on the subject. However, as the Duke
was now off to Scotland, to attend the death-
bed of his uncle, who, it was supposed, might
yet linger on some days, there seemed little
chance of his having any opportunity of seeing
Evelyn again before her departure for the
Perhaps it might be the fact of his grace's
absence that increased the assiduity of Lord
Haverfordwest; for, with all his conceit, he
could hardly put his claims in competition
with those of the first parti of the day — the
all-conquering, and, as yet, unconquered Duke
of Shetland. But, whatever were the cause,
it is certain that he had now resolved on lay-
ing siege to Evelyn in greater earnest than he
had ever done before.
Helen, who knew well how annoying to her
202 EVELYN HARCOURT.
friend must be Lady Belharris's distribution
of the party, did all she could — a great deal
for so shy a person, to be allowed to go with
Mrs. Norman in her place. But her efforts
were fruitless ! Lady Belharris had her rea-
sons, as we have already seen, and she over-
ruled her at once, with that air of quiet but
well-bred decision which a woman of the
world knows so well how to assume, and with
which she can at once silence and at the same
time abash one less experienced in aplomb
Poor Evelyn ! there was a cloud upon her
spirit, which she found it impossible to dispel.
Mrs. Norman wondered to herself whether " the
Beauty" were always as grave and taciturn
as on the present occasion, and thought, in her
own mind, that Lord Haverfordwest could
scarcely be flattered by the manner in which
his assiduities were received.
*' This is very unsatisfactory !" said to her-
self the pretty bride, who, like many persons
EVELYN HARCOURT. ?03
that have not lived much in London, was in-
clined to exaggerate in her own mind the
mystery and exclusiveness of its coteries ;—
*' perhaps I am not good enough for her — or
perhaps she would rather have had him to
herself with her friend in the other carriage !
But it was Lady Belharris's arrangement, not
mine. — I wish George had come with us,
instead of riding, as he would do. It would
have been much more pleasant for me."
To conceal her awkwardness, she directed
as much as possible of her conversation to her
brother, who sat opposite to her — a shy lad
of eighteen, just entering the army; whom
Mr. Euston Trevor had, out of good nature,
included in his invitation; — and thus Lord
Haverfordwest was left completely at liberty
to bestow his platitudes upon the unlucky
The drive seemed interminable, and the
way to Paradise very much like purgatory —
but it was reached at last. They found some
204 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of the gentlemen already arrived; amongst
others, Mr. Norman, to whom his wife in-
stantly hurried, with a sensation of inconceiv-
able relief, and a strong desire to make him
at once acquainted with her troubles during
The party soon sauntered out in scattered
groups, to amuse themselves till dinner-time
in the gardens and grounds, which, though
not large, were beautifully laid out. But here
again poor Evelyn was unlucky. She had
lingered near Lady Belharris, in the hope that
Mr. Sherborne would approach her — but in
vain ! What was her surprise — almost her
indignation — to see him offer his arm to
Helen, and disappear with her and Lady
Annette in the shrubberies ! This was a peril-
ous moment for Evelyn ! She was almost on
the verge of betraying herself ! — her breath
came quick — a mist swam before her eyes —
and if she had not sunk down upon a seat
which chanced opportunely to be near, she
EVELYN HARCOURT. 205
might almost have fallen. As it was, no one
noticed her agitation, and she had time to re-
cover herself in some degree before she was
joined by Lord Haverfordwest. Then, in spite
of her very broad hints to Lady Belharris to re-
main with her — not to go — somehow or other,
most unaccountably. Lady Belharris did go —
and she was left alone with him under the
tree ! Everybody seemed in league against
her. — Everybody conspired to torment her !
" Really, Trevor is a lucky fellow," Lord
Haverfordwest began. " What a lovely spot
this is !"
*' Lovely, indeed !" replied Evelyn, with
something like asperity. " Had we not better
do more than merely admire it from this seat?
Lady Belharris went that way, I think."
She rose ; Lord Haverfordwest offered his
arm, and they walked on for some moments
in silence. He was pondering within himself
how to begin ; somehow or other, he felt un-
accountably shy. Those magnificent eyes
206 EVELYN HARCOURT.
could look so fierce on occasion ! He rather
He exhorted himself to remember who and
what he was, and ditto repeated with regard
to her. He reminded himself what a match
he would be for her, and what a triumph for
him to cut out his friend the Duke !
" E — hem ! this is really a lovely spot ! —
E— hem !"
" It makes one long to be ruralizing in the
country. I should so like to show you Castle
Haverfordwest, Miss Harcourt ! — E — hem ! —
Perhaps . . . . "
" It is in Pembrokeshire, I imagine. —Where
can Lady Belharris be?...."
" I shall never have such another oppor-
tunity !" thought Lord Haverfordwest. "Now
or never !.
His heart beat violently.
" You cannot but have observed. Miss Har-
EVELYN HARCOURT. S07
** Oh yes ! I saw it from the house. The
spire is more distinct than here, and it is very
picturesque. Those trees might be thinned
with advantage, however, to let in the view."
Lord Haverfordwest was silenced. For a
moment a doubt came across him whether
this misunderstanding were intentional or not,
but he soon convinced himself it could not be
so. He must be foolishly timid ; — lovers al-
ways were ! —
" Here is a delicious seat !" said he. " Do
let me persuade you to rest for a few moments,
whilst I place myself at your feet — where — I
would too gladly — always...."
" I advise you not," said Evelyn, decidedly.
" The grass looks damp, and it rained this
morning However," she continued a moment
after, hi a tone of almost ludicrous indifference,
" no doubt, you are the best judge. Pray,
have you any idea what o'clock it is ?"
" Miss Harcourt, you torture me by this
wilful misunderstanding of my.... You see in
208 EVELYN HARCOURT.
me a lover of the most devoted description
— a slave, in short — a . . . . "
He paused. He felt at a loss as to what
else she might be supposed to see in him ; so,
as he could make out nothing more, he had
recourse to repetition.
" In short, a lover, whose — whose happi-
ness — L might even say whose fate hangs upon
your will. To call you mine... . "
" Lord Haverfordwest !" exclaimed Evelyn,
rising with inexpressible dignity, '* I beg you
will cease. I had not the smallest idea of
this ; I never imagined you entertained any
feelings of this sort. Pray let us return to
the house ; I cannot listen further."
'' Beautiful, bewitching, beloved being !'*
cried Lord Haverfordwest, enchanted with his
own apt alliteration, and making an awkward
attempt to seize her hand, which she reso-
lutely withheld, " Do not doom me to despair
— to des — I was going to say to destruction I
'pon my soul I was ! — I can't live without you !
EVELYN HARCOXJRT. 209
'pon my soul I can't ! Now, my angel, 'pon
" Lord Haverfordwest, you astonish me !
After what I have said...."
" Lovely being ! may I not flatter myself
that in time at least. ...in time...."
"Hear me, my lord!" cried Evelyn, in a tone
that commanded his instant silence : '* I am
amazed at your persisting in this language,
when I have so distinctly told you it is disa-
greeable to me. I beg it may cease at once.
Your good opinion is flattering, no doubt, but
I must be allowed to consult my own wishes
and feelings, and they are decidedly unfavour-
able to yours."
She spoke with a tone and in a manner that
not even he could misunderstand.
" And am I to consider myself rejected,
then ?" cried he, his round red face becoming
rounder and redder with rage and astonish-
ment ; "rejected? — L..."
" I am sorry to give you pain, but I cannot
S 1 EVELYN HARCOURT.
accuse myself of ever having encouraged such
advances as these."
*' Miss Harcourt ! Miss Harcourt ! do not
suppose I am blind, though I have put myself
in your power, and enabled you to treat me
with this contempt. You have good reasons
for what you are doing, and it is quite clear
to me what your aim is ! But, mark my
words — you worCt succeed ! I'll bet half my
income you don't catch him !"
Evelyn's face became crimson at these
words ; the real meaning of which she totally
misunderstood. Imagining her secret was dis-
covered, and overwhelmed with shame, anger,
and confusion, she covered her face with her
hands, and turned away.
Just at that moment, footsteps were heard
approaching, and Mr. Sherborne and Helen
appeared, arm in arm, in such earnest conver-
sation, that they were actually upon the others
before they even perceived them. There was
no time to retreat ; yet the confusion of both
EVELYN UARCOURT. 211
parties was most evident. But, even in that
moment of hurry and excitement, Evelyn did
not fail to perceive the blush that overspread
the cheeks of Helen as she met her eye ; and
an overpowering sensation of jealousy took
possession of her own soul.
A few awkward observations were exchanofed
between the parties, and then the new-comers
were hurrying off, as though conscious they
were disturbing a tete-ct'tete, when Evelyn, in
plain terms, requested them to accompany her
as far as the house. There was no mistakinor
this — and the baffled and crestfallen Earl
turned away in an opposite direction, to digest
his mortification as he best might, and debate
within himself the possibility of cutting the
whole concern of the dinner altogether, and
returning to town at once.
But his pride opposed itself to this step ; —
it would have too much the appearance of a
defeat. No, he would brave it out for the sake
of his offended dignity ; and Miss Harcourt
2 1 2 EVELYN H ARCOURT.
should not at least have the triumph of ima-
gining she had succeeded in wounding him.
He would turn the tables upon her, and wither
her by his neglect — his contempt ! He would
make her repent her rejection of him ! —
In the mean time, Evelyn, who had perceived
Lady Annette at some distance, had abruptly
quitted her companions, as though delighted
to shake them off, and had joined her. Lady
Annette received her with apparent plea-
" How nice of you to take compassion on
poor solitary me !" said she ; " and how won-
derful that you, the envied of all enviers, the
admired of all admirers, should prefer a quiet
walk to the incense that all are so ready to
offer ! But what have you done with Lord
Haverfordwest? Not refused him, I hope?"
Then, observing Evelyn's look of embarrass-
ment, she added, pointing towards Miss Eridge
and Mr. Sherborne, " There go one pair of
happy lovers, at least !"
EVELYN HARCOURT. 2 1 3
" Lovers !" cried Evelyn, as a pang of un-
utterable bitterness shot through her heart.
" Lovers ! — your cousin and Helen !"
" You look astonished. Have you any
doubt of it ?"
** They know each other so little — they
never met till lately ; and I thought — I was
" That my cousin was engaged to me — is
not that what you were going to say ? Ah,
well ! it was so reported, I know : one of the
on dits of society, because I happen to have
money, and he has not ; but there never was
a word of truth in it, I do assure you. Arthur
is a good creature, and I have a great regard
for him, and admiration, and all that ; but, as
for marrying him, it is the last thing I should
dream of. He would bore me to death — he
is infinitely too clever for me — too exalted....
I should die of it !"
Evelyn looked at her with unfeigned asto-
nishment. And this was the person whom she
214 EVELYN HARCOURT.
had believed to be devoted to Mr. Sherborne,
whose whole soul she had imagined was
wrapped up in him ! —
She w^as conscious of a sensation of relief
even at that moment ; it was happiness to
know that from Ladj Annette, at least, he
was safe — one too so little capable of appre-
ciating him ! But soon the sickening recol-
lection of Helen returned. Could Helen, in-
deed, be playing so false a part, as to seek to
win his affections for herself, after all that
she had discovered, too, so lately? Some-
thing told her that it could not be so ; yet
she remembered the enthusiastic admiration
with which she had lately spoken of him —
she, who was so seldom enthusiastic about
any body ; and her mind felt disturbed and
Turning to her companion, she inquired, as
calmly as she could, what reasons she had
for supposing that Mr. Sherborne and Helen
EVELYN HARCOURT. 215
Lady Annette seemed astonished at the
question. " Their whole conduct," she said,
" was a proof of it ; she could scarcely con-
ceive how any two persons could show their
partiality more plainly. Miss Eridge seemed
to have eyes and ears for Mr. Sherborne
alone ; and as for him, he certainly always
contrived, somehow or other, to be where she
was. The other day, when they had all ridden
to Chiswick together, whom had he talked to
but her? — and to-day, what could be thought
of their conduct to-day ? His manoeuvres to
go in the same carriage with her ; their con-
versation almost exclusively addressed to one
another during the drive, most of it inaudible
to the others ! What could two people do
more to prove their regard, their preference,
for each other's society ?... Perhaps, however.
Miss Eridge was a flirt."
*' 'No, no," cried Evelyn, hurriedly, " it is
not in her nature to flirt."
" Then what can one suppose, but that cela
216 EVELYN HARCOURT.
devient serieuj? — mais tres serieuw meme!
I cannot wonder you are annoyed ; your
friend has no fortune, I understand, and Ar-
thur inherited nothing from his father but
debts. It is true, he has paid many of them
off, and he is making mints just now by his
works ; but, after all, fashion is very uncer-
tain, and a bad provision to marry upon, at
Evelyn made no answer — she was wonder-
ing to herself what any one could see in this
world worth living for. Every thing was so
hollow, so distasteful ; disappointment was
Inrking every where.
Had Lady Annette's object been to make
her thoroughly miserable, she could not have
succeeded better ; but, to do her justice, she
was innocent of any such intention. She was
not indeed quite clear that Evelyn had not
at one time entertained some sort of preference
for Mr. Sherborne herself; but, whether this
had or had not been the case, she really did
EVELYN HARCOURT. 217
believe it was Helen Eridge who was capti-
vating him now, and that most completely.
The truth was, Lady Annette loved her
cousin herself, and it had been from no want
of encouragement on her own part, nor that
of her father, that Arthur Sherborne had not
returned her attachment. She had sought to
captivate him by every means in her power ;
and, although it suited her pride, which had
been cruelly mortified by his indifference, to
declare that the report of their engagement
was wholly without foundation, yet the fact
was, that that report had originated in cer-
tain words of the noble Earl himself, incau-
tiously uttered on an occasion when joviality
had got the better of discretion, and ex-
pressing a fervent hope, as well as expectation,
that his nephew would one day become his
son-in-law. These words were repeated with
certain additions ; and they ended in pro-
ducing an explanation from Arthur Sherborne
himself, which completely put a stop to all
VOL. I. L
218 EVELYN HARCOURT.
hopes of the kind for the future, though it
could not destroy Lady Annette's attachment.
She still regarded, with the utmost dislike
and jealousy, any one whom she imagined him
to prefer. At one time, she had been jealous
of Evelyn, but this had long since passed
away. Mr. Sherborne had formerly talked of
her, and praised her beauty, her simplicity ;
but lately he had not even mentioned her
name. It was not likely, indeed, that a
girl like Miss Harcourt should stoop to care
for one who, with all his talents and noto-
riety, was still but a younger son, and not
even a rich one.
But Helen Bridge — she feared that was
altogether a different matter. Helen Bridge
had neither money, as she believed, nor high
connexions, nor even great beauty to recom-
mend her ; and she might well be proud to
connect herself with one whose family was
noble and ancient as any in the land, whose
name was ringing throughout Europe, and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 219
whose works were beginning to be translated
into almost every language. Such an alliance
would indeed be a brilliant one for her, and
she was therefore to be feared. Lady Annette
regarded her not only with fear, but with
But Evelyn's feelings were even more bitter
than Lady Annette's ; she felt as if the world
had suddenly become a blank to her ; her
judgment was for the time completely ob-
scured, and she could no longer trust one
human being. Helen, her sister, the com-
panion of her childhood, had turned against
her ; had sought to deprive her of what was
far dearer than life ; and now, what remained
to her? Who could she confide in hence-
forth? Life and its pleasures were over for
her, and she passionately longed to die.
It all seemed clear now, too clear; and
busy memory recalled innumerable little cir-
cumstances, which she wondered at herself
for having overlooked before ; — all proofs to
220 EVELYN HARCOURT.
her distorted fancy of the existence of the
evil which she had but just learnt to dread,
but which each instant served to confirm
more and more strongly.
The rest of that day passed she knew not
how — it all seemed like a painful and weary
dream. The tedious dinner, the flat conver-
sation, the sickening gaiety of some, the
worse dulness of others — all seemed to her
intolerable at the time, though afterwards she
retained but an indistinct recollection of it.
But she remembered, with a painful clear-
ness, the evident desire of Mr. Sherborne to
get next Helen at dinner ; his look of satis-
faction when he succeeded ; and the earnest
tone of the conversation that followed. All
this she had observed, and it ate into her soul
with all those burning sensations of jealous
rage, which nearly madden the brain that
feels them ! She fancied, too, that Helen was
conscious of her observation, and that she
strove to discourage his attentions when her
EVELYN HARCOURT. 221
eje was upon them ; but that their conver-
sation was instantly resumed whenever she
turned away from them, and with greater
interest than ever.
Oh, who can describe the misery of that
drive home ! Evelyn had but one earnest
wish — that anguish had power to destroy ! —
If it were but possible to die of mental suf-
fering as of bodily disease, she should not
linger long, she felt assured.
And there were Arthur and Helen in the
carriage before her, still conversing together,
as though unconscious that there was one not
far off, who was learning her first bitter lesson
of the nature of jealousy — beginning to con-
ceive what might be the sensations of despair !
When she arrived in Grosvenor Square, she
instantly took refuge in Lady Truro's room,
where she knew that Helen could not pene-
trate ; and, desiring Deschamps to tell Miss
Eridge that she meant to pass the night with
her cousin, she presently stole up to her own
222 EVELYN HARCOURT.
room, and having fastened the door, threw
herself down on a chair by the open window,
like one stupified.
And it was not till the morning light had
begun to penetrate into the chamber that she
at length undressed, and fell into a troubled
and feverish slumber.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 223
Iphtgenie. Vous Taimez! Que faisois-je? et quelle
ATa fait entre mes bras recevoir ma rivale ?
Perfide ! cet affront peut-il se pardonner ?
Pharcismane. D'ou vient done aujourdhui ce secret
S'il est vrai qu'en ces lieux tu ne medites rien.
Arsame. Ce n'est pas un secret qu'on puisse reveler;
Un interet sacre me defend de parler.
Evelyn slept late the following morning ;
and awoke at last with a confused and weary
sense of some impending evil. Who has not,
at one time or another of life, experienced this
most painful sensation — the consciousness of
some unexplained weight upon the spirit —
of something dreadful that either has occurred
224 EVELYN HARCOURT.
or is about to occur ; of some misfortune that
cannot be averted ? For my own part, I have
always thought that nothing on earth is
worse to bear than the first waking from the
sound and dreamless sleep that not unfre-
quently succeeds to the excitement of violent
sorrow ! It is some time before the mind
becomes alive to the reality of its misery — to
the remembrance of all that has gone before ;
and as, little by little, the soft, mysterious
veil which sleep has cast over the wrung
heart and heavy brain is withdrawn, the stern,
hard, relentless grief — perhaps Death itself —
appears in view, and the soul is born again
to an anguish rendered doubly bitter by the
welcome rest, the total oblivion, that has pre-
ceded it. In short, just in the same manner
as the sensations that accompany the resto-
ration of suspended animation are far more
exquisitely painful than those immediately
preceding death, so, in my opinion, the first
waking up from sleep, after an overwhelming
EVELYN HARCOURT. 225
misfortune, is often infinitely worse than the
very moments of its actual occurrence.
When Evelyn awoke that morning, she gazed
around her with a strange kind of surprise at
the novelty of her own sensations. What
had happened ? Was it some fearful dream,
whose influence she could not shake off, that
haunted her ?.... All that surrounded her ap-
peared the same as usual, but something was
changed ! — could it be herself ?... Then, gra-
dually, by little and little, she began to recall
to mind each separate incident of the pre-
ceding day, till at length the whole of the
suffering that had been crowded into the short
space of a few hours came rushing back upon
her, and overwhelmed her with its fearful re-
collection. Then it all became real enough,
and her heart sank within her at the prospect
of the weary life to which she must in future
look forward. For what hope had she in the
world?. ...He loved her not !.... he loved ano-
226 EVELYN HARCOURT.
She was told that Miss Bridge had been
more than once to her bedside already, but
had gone away again, desiring she might not
be disturbed. Evelyn rejoiced that she had
done so. Above all things, she most dreaded
seeing Helen — she could scarcely bear to
think of her with tolerable composure — Helen,
whom but till yesterday she had loved and
trusted as her own soul ! —
The more she reflected, the more incredible
did it seem to her that she should have con-
tinued so long blind to the evidences of that
mutual though somewhat sudden regard which
she was now but too well convinced had
sprung up between her friend and Mr. Sher-
borne. But that that friend should have
suffered her to remain in ignorance of it —
nay, should have actually striven to conceal
it from her, and after wringing from her, as
it were, her own secret — the confession of her
love — should have sought to win from her the
heart of him she worshipped — was a degree
EVELYN HARCOURT. 227
of treacherous duplicity too dreadful almost
to be contemplated ! Yet that it was so,
there could not be a doubt.
She presently descended to Lady Truro,
whom she found in unusual agitation. Lord
Truro had just announced that their depar-
ture to the continent must take place con-
siderably sooner than had been intended — in
a few days at farthest ; and his wife was
quite overcome by the scene that had occurred
Evelyn felt a kind of malicious exultation
at this intelligence. It was true, their
hastened departure would separate her all the
sooner from Mr. Sherborne, but Helen would
be separated from him, too ; and there was
comfort in that thought — unless, indeed, he
should propose to her first — unless he had
proposed to her already.
As these ideas passed rapidly through the
mind of Evelyn, she descended to the draw-
ing-room. It was better to get the meeting
228 EVELYN HARCOURT.
with Helen over as soon as possible ; it must
take place — the sooner the better, therefore !
" Where is Miss Eridge ?" she inquired of a
servant w^hom she met on the stairs.
" Miss Eridge is in the pink drawing-room,
I believe, ma'am."
Evelyn turned towards it. She opened
the door ; Helen was not there, but she fan-
cied she heard her voice beyond. She ad-
vanced towards the conservatory, penetrated
to the boudoir, and there, standing close to-
gether, apparently in earnest conversation,
were — Helen and Mr. Sherborne !
Evelyn stood petrified at the sight. All
was indeed confirmed — all was over!....
Despair lent her calmness. With a cold,
haughty bow to Mr. Sherborne, and a slight
apology for her intrusion, she retreated in
haste, utterly disregarding the entreaties of
both that she would remain ; and, rushing up
stairs with the speed of lightning, she once
more took refuge in her own room.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 229
And when, half an hour afterwards, Helen,
who was miserable about her, went up to seek
her, she found her door locked ; and it was
not till after repeated entreaties for admittance
that she succeeded in obtaining even as much
as a word in reply. At length, however,
Evelyn did open the door, standing herself
so as to oppose all entrance, and, in a cold,
sullen voice, inquired what she w^anted.
" Oh ! Evelyn ! dear Evelyn ! do not speak
to me so !" cried Helen, almost in tears.
" Let me come in for a few moments — will
Evelyn moved aside, and, having admitted
her, seated herself without uttering a syl-
lable, and fixed her eyes sullenly on the
" You are angry, Evelyn — I see it ; and I
cannot but suspect the cause ! But, oh ! how
can you do me such injustice as to suppose,
for one moment. ..."
"To suppose what?" interrupted Evelyn,
230 EVELYN HARCOURT.
raising her eyes, and fixing them upon Helen
with an indefinable expression.
*' I hope I may be wrong, dear Evelyn, but
I feared You thought it strange to find
Mr. Sherborne with me just now."
" I ! — by no means !■ — After his conduct of
yesterday, it seemed to me the most natural
thing in the world that he should seek
you to-day ! only what one would ex-
" Oh ! Evelyn, if it were but in my power
— but it is not ! I may not tell you the
reason of his seeking me."
" Spare yourself the trouble, I beg ; I can
well imagine it."
"No, you cannot — you are far, far from
imagining it — it has nothing whatever to do
with what you fancy. ...with myself!"
" And for what purpose then, may I ask,
was he here this morning ? Did he not come
to see 2/ou f "
"He did; but,..."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 231
" Why did he come ? — Tell me that ! quick!
" I cannot, Evelyn ; I am under a solemn
promise not to mention the cause of his
coming ; but it was not for me ! it was some-
thing connected "
" And you expect me to believe that it was
not for you! Go; I am not the fool, the
dupe you imagine. What ! do you suppose
people have no eyes ? Your mutual feelings
are apparent to all the world ! one must indeed
be blind not to see them ; every one remarked
upon them yesterday ! every one thought . . ."
" I rejoice to hear it, Evelyn ; — it is at
least some excuse for you — can you remember
our long friendship — our childhood passed
together — and yet doubt my word ?"
" What was his object this morning ? Tell
me that, and I may believe you."
" I cannot; I have promised not to tell
it ; for some time, at least. — It concerned
another: and . . . ."
232 EVELYN HARCOURT.
A sadden gleam of hope shot through
Evelyn's heart, like a ray of light from
" Tell me but this !'' she exclaimed with
inexpressible eagerness — " Was his object in
any way connected with me ? . . . . was it ... .
oh, was it "
It would be hard to say which felt the
bitterest pang the moment after, — she, who
must destroy the new-born hope that had
but just begun to bless that troubled
heart, — or she, who learnt that she had hoped
But Helen did not waver. She felt it
would be no kindness to encourage hopes
which she had but too good reason to fear
were without foundation.
^* It was not in any way connected with
you, dear Evelyn," said she decidedly. — " If
it had been, do you think I should not have
told you so directly ? It was a person you
do not even know. Would that I could think
EVELYN HARCOURT. 233
he loves you ; but, alas ! of that I feel no cer-
tainty — sometimes even — little hope."
Until that moment Evelyn had retained her
composure, and she kept her eyes fixed upon her
companion with a cold, sullen, impenetrable
expression ; — but no sooner were these words
uttered, than her features changed with incon-
ceivable rapidity — her eyes seemed literally
to flash fire — and her whole form to dilate
with the most vehement passion.
" Stop, stop !" she cried, with fearful vio-
lence. *' This is more than I can bear ! Is it
not enough that you have basely sought to
captivate the affections of him I love — that
you have abused my confidence — stung my
very soul — and now you turn upon me, and
insult me by such words as these ! I will
not bear it ! — Thank God ! we are to part
immediately ! I am grateful for it ! I could
not continue to live thus ! I could not en-
dure what I have done the last twenty-four
hours, and keep my reason Thank God !
234 EVELYN HARCOURT.
we set off in three days — only three days
" No, Evelyn — not three days, not three
hours — if you really wish to part from me —
if you disbelieve my word ! I will go at once
— I will not stay when you suffer from my
Evelyn was silent.
" Oh ! Evelyn ! will you not speak one
kind word to me?" cried Helen, bursting into
tears. — " At least, let us part friends. I do
not wish to stay, I am sure — nothing should
tempt me to do so now ; but at least let us
not part in anger ! — Indeed — indeed I have
not injured you ! — Say one farewell to me."
" Farewell !" said Evelyn ; and her heart
half relented ; but then the thought came
across her that that outstretched hand had
lately been clasped in his ; — perhaps even
was already promised to him — and her soul
burned with agonizing jealousy at the bare
EVELYN HARCOURT. 285
And she scarcely touched the proffered
hand, but turned away.
"Oh, Evelyn ! the day will come when you
will repent this — when you will know how
wrong you were. But I will pray for you —
yes ! I can still do that !".... And in another
moment Helen was gone.
Evelyn felt bewildered. The tumult of her
passion was such, that she was incapable of
judgment or of reflection. There are not
many natures like hers, and it is fortunate
that there are not. The suffering of weeks
of ordinary beings was concentrated in a few
hours of her intense emotions, and with the
game impetuosity that she loved did she now
suffer from the agony, the degradation, of
havinof loved in vain. Her mind was over-
wrought — utterly unstrung ! She was blinded
by the violence of her prejudices. To her,
there seemed at that time not the shadow of
a doubt of Helen's duplicity — of her attach-
ment to Mr. Sherborne. Helen's solemn
236 EVELYN HARCOURT.
assurances, her indignant denial of the whole,
went for nothing in her mind ; Helen was his,
and he was lost to her for ever !
Hour after hour passed away, and still she
sat there — silent — motionless — in the same
attitude. She felt abandoned by all the world !
— alone in her misery — no one could sym-
pathize with her — no one could conceive what
It was not till many hours after that she
was roused by a message from Lady Truro,
requesting to see her in her dressing-room.
She found Lady Annette there, in the act of
informing Lady Truro, in confidence, of her
own conviction that Mr. Sherborne had only a
few hours before proposed to Miss Bridge, for
that, to her knowledge, they had had a private
interview that morning; — and this circum-
stance, coupled with the equally astonishing
fact of Miss Eridge being actually gone two
hours ago — set off suddenly with her maid
upon the plea of unexpected news, which ren-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 237
dered her departure necessary — made it cer-
tainly appear somewhat probable that these
suspicions were correct.
Evelyn commanded herself to listen with
apparent calmness. She felt it was better to
know the worst at once — to have no doubt
remaining in her own mind — she could now
give herself up entirely to her despair.
Mr. Sherborne called the next day in Gros-
venor Square ; but Lady Truro was not visible,
and Evelyn of course did not see him. She
ascertained, however, that he had inquired at
what hour Miss Eridge had departed the pre-
vious morning, and also what was Mr. Eridge's
post-town. She further discovered, by means
of Deschamps, that, previous to her departure,
Helen had written a note to Mr. Sherborne,
which she had left with one of the servants, to
be taken to his lodgings as soon as possible.
What further confirmation of their engagement
was needed ?...In her opinion, none !...
288 EVELYN HARCOURT.
How the next few days passed, Evelyn
could scarcely tell ! It was all like a strange
and troubled dream, from which she vainly
endeavoured to rouse herself ! She had indeed
a distinct remembrance, afterwards, of Lady
Truro's having commented upon her evident
depression and absence of mind, and inquired
the cause — and of sundry hints about the
Duke of Shetland and his absence as con-
nected with that depression — but with the
exception of this, and a few other circum-
stances that for some reason had made a slio'ht
impression upon her mind, all the rest that
occurred during this short period was for-
gotten, obliterated — almost as though it had
never been. Wherever she went, whatever
she did, there was one miserable, overpower-
ing certainty ever present to her mind — he
loved her not ! — he loved Helen !
And all that seemed beautiful and inspiring
before now suddenly lost its charm for this
young girl ! The sky was no longer bright —
EVELYN HARCOURT. 239
the summer air no longer balmy — the placid
moon and countless stars on which, in the still
hours of night, she had lately so loved to gaze,
whilst dreaming that his eyes were also di-
rected there — no longer beamed upon her
with their own soft and mysterious light ; —
his image, which had hallowed every page of
that enchanted lore he had first opened to her
view, no longer smiled upon her as at first,
encouraging her efforts, smoothing away her
difiiculties, cheering her lonely and pensive
labours ; — the music of his voice, which she
ever fondly fancied she could hear, whilst
reading again and again the exquisite produc-
tions of his own unrivalled genius, was mute
for her.... A gloom seemed to have encom-
passed all things, and all that was beautiful
and happy in creation had vanished from her
The world had become suddenly darkened !
240 EVELYN HARCOURT.
In manners vain,
In conversation frivolous, in dress
Believe me, you are marvellously changed.
Merchant of Venice.
Ote moi cet objet, je ne le puis soufifrir.
Mrs. Harry Eridge was a very odd person —
one of those people about whom most of their
acquaintance shake their heads, look wise,
and declare that " they are utterly unaccount-
able — utterly !" and the rest very charitably
determine that they are undoubtedly mad !
But Mrs. Eridge was not mad, although she
constantly acted as if she were ; she was only
exceedingly capricious, violent in her temper,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 241
and fond of affecting singularity. She had
married for love ; but this had not prevented
her from making the object of her attachment
utterly wretched during the period of their
union. The truth was, she could not exist
without some one to torment. As long as her
husband had lived, she had existed very well
upon tormenting him, and since his death she
had done her best to supply his place by tor-
menting the children he had left, with occa-
sional intervals of rapturous fondness for them,
which she was always astonished and indignant
to find they did not reciprocate.
Her father, a younger son of good family,
had been poor, but extravagant ; and her
mother, a Duke's daughter, still more so. How
this fashionable pair had contrived to scramble
on at all, no one could exactly tell ; but they
had scrambled on from day to day and from
year to year, and that was all they could
hope to do. Lady Anne Percy had died whilst
her daughters were yet in the school-room, and
VOL. I. M
242 EVELYN HARCOURT.
from that period, Beatrice, the eldest, had
become, in a manner, mistress of her sisters
and of the whole family.
The education of these girls had been ter-
ribly neglected ; indeed, they could scarcely
be said to have had any at all, and they grew
up almost without principles — in short, with
just as much good as nature gave them, and
no more. When they had " come out," as it
is called, they visited about amongst their
high and rich connexions, and contracted
habits of extravagance little calculated to
render them either contented daughters at
home, or good wives to men of moderate pre-
tensions. Their father, finding he derived
little domestic comfort from them, soon mar-
ried again, a young and pretty woman, to their
infinite disgust ; and then they were seized,
one and all, with the most intense longing to
escape from the paternal roof, which became
more and more intolerable to them, as each
year brought with it an addition to the
EVELYN HARCOURT. 243
already overstocked family, in the shape of a
squalling infant of enormous dimensions and
the most robust constitution.
In a couple of years they had all married,
and all badly, in a worldly point of view;
nevertheless, some of them were happy, (those
whose dispositions were in themselves calcu-
lated for happiness) and one or two even
made good wives and mothers. Beatrice,
however, whose match had been considered
the best at the time, proved the least con-
tented with her lot ; but then it was evident
to all that, under no possible circumstances,
could Beatrice ever have been happy. Indeed,
she never had been so. — not even as a child.
Since the death of her husband, she had
lived almost entirely abroad, preferring the
freedom and laisser oiler of a life on the con-
tinent to the greater confinement and regu-
larity of an English home. She had seen but
little of her sisters, still less of the children of
her father's second marriage, with the excep-
244 EVELYN HARCOURT.
tion of Frederic, her stepmother's eldest son.
She did condescend to like him, in her own
singular, uncertain, and capricious manner;
but of the rest she always spoke with a kind
of contemptuous bitterness, as though it were
utterly unpardonable in them to have been
born at all.
Mrs. Eridge had not had a single sixpence
settled upon her by her father at her marriage.
It was all he could do to struggle on himself,
find food for his numerous tribe, and get his
sons fairly launched in the various professions
they were to follow. He could not attempt to
provide fortunes for his daughters. Frederic,
however, was better off than the rest of the
family, for an old third cousin, who had been
fond of him as a child, had left him three
hundred a year, besides presenting him with
his commission ; so that he was looked upon
by his brothers and sisters as a kind of inde-
pendent and good-humoured Croesus ! How
much of that three hundred a year found its
EVELYN HARCOURT. ^45
way into the pocket of his mother, or became
invested in the transitory shape of frocks and
coats for her numerous progeny, cannot be
ascertained, for he was never known to divulge
such secrets; but certain it is that he did
spend his income, and yet not upon himself,
for his own personal expenses were few, and
his wishes singularly moderate.
No one was ever yet so surrounded by poor
relations on all sides as Fred Percy — families
of nephews and nieces, all growing up around
him, each more unprovided for than the rest,
all looking up to him as the guardian-angel —
the protector and influential man of their
race. " Ask Uncle Fred !" was the general
cry in doubt or emergency of any kind. —
" ril write to your brother Frederic, and ask
him what steps I should take about the boy !''
was the satisfactory answer of his brothers-in-
law to their wives, in anxious debates about
those overgrown boys whose spirits were fired
with ambitious ardour to strut in uniform. —
246 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" Fred will talk to him when he comes, and
bring him to his senses, if anything can !" was
the comforting conclusion in the mind of his
father, when any one of his younger sons, with
a soul above goosequills, revolted against the
clerkship in a country business, procured not
without immense difficulty, or even perhaps
the writership to India, obtained by means of
an unceasing solicitation and powerful interest.
In short, Frederic was the guide and support
as well as the pride of his family ; and nobody
knew what anybody would do without Fred !
His popularity, too, was reflected back upon
his relations ; every one was disposed to be
kind to a brother of Fred Percy's, and' to go
out of their way to give him a lift. He was
such a deuced good fellow himself !
Mrs. Bridge was proud of his popularity,
and she was always endeavouring to instil into
his mind that he might marry well — that he
might benefit his family immensely if he mar-
ried as he ought. He would be inexcusable
EVELYN HARCOURT. 247
indeed, if, with his opportunities, he did not
make a most excellent match.
Although he was far from returning her
partiality, yet, as he sincerely pitied his un-
fortunate nephews and nieces who were under
her capricious and tyrannical control, he
made a point of going to see her as often
as he could, and these visits were looked for-
ward to as glimpses of heaven by them. His
influence could obtain for them what nothing
else could ; and, whilst he remained, all was
At the time of which we speak, it so hap-
pened that Paris was unusually dull, and
Mrs. Harry had been suddenly seized with an
uncontrollable desire to behold her sisters
once more, and introduce her daughters to
her various relations. Accordingly, one fine
day, to the great astonishment of everybody,
she made her appearance in England ; and
having saluted her father, gone into hysterics
248 EVELYN HARCOURT.
over his gray hairs, and shocked her step-
mother by her strong disapprobation of her
half sisters, she next proceeded to the abode
of her own favourite sister, once a lively,
merry, ambitious girl, but now the sober,
matter-of-fact wife of a country rector, and
the mother of six chubby children.
Poor Mrs. Heneage, whose thoughts were
centred in Little Upton Parsonage, was com-
pletely upset by the arrival of Beatrice and
her two daughters. What on earth was she
to do with them ? — Beatrice, with her strange
temper, her horror of everything English, and
her impudent French maid without a cap !
Mrs. Heneage's own cap nearly flew off her
head in virtuous indignation at the turpitude
of that maid ! Such an example to female
servants in general, and to the female servants
of the Rectory in particular .'...And when she
was always putting up Mr. H. to preach
against the love of finery, and vanity of female
apparel ! Then the Miss Bridges, with their
EVELYN HARCOURT. 249
French idioms — their dresses fitting so tight
to their shapes, and their hair done so beau-
tifully smooth — how would her own two
square, stumpy girls, with their red hands,
rough plaits, and shining cheeks, ever get on
with them ? To be sure, they looked good-
natured enough ; but of course they had been
brought up to despise everybody and every-
thing not Parisian.
And what was poor Mr. Heneage to do,
who could never endure a noise, and who abo-
minated everything French with the virulent
hatred of which only a narrow-minded John
Bull is capable ? How would he ever endure
such an influx of noise, and worldliness, and
foreign trash ?
The sisters had not met for years, and Mrs.
Eridge had never been at Little Upton Rec-
tory in her life. She had always entertained
a very decided contempt for its master, whom
she considered as little better than a cabbage-
stalk ; and she had told her sister at the time
250 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of her marriage that she was throwing her-
self completely away upon such a man, and
would henceforth become a mere vegetable
herself. For some years after, whenever she
had condescended to write to the female
vegetable, she had not been able to resist
making some allusion of a sneering nature to
the male ditto, then only a poor curate;
which, even if it could be supposed to be
gratifying to the feelings of his wife, could
scarcely be so to his own, should he chance to
overlook the letter. But then his name was
Andrew ! — and who could bear a man whose
name was Andrew ? — not Mrs. Harry Eridge,
For some time past, however, she had trans-
ferred her antipathy from Andrew to another
brother-in-law, whom even she could not
accuse of resemblance to a vegetable, but
who, being a strong-minded, acute, well-
judging lawyer, had taken the liberty of par-
ticularly disapproving of her mode of pro-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 251
ceeding in general, and more especially of her
manner of spending her income, about which
she had once in a weak moment consulted
him. Poor Andrew had, consequently, been
latterly left in peace.
But, though Mrs. Harry had forgotten much
of the past, and had perhaps never, in her
consummate selfishness, been even conscious
of the pain she had inflicted, Mrs. Heneage
could not forget it ; and now, when years and
ties had attached her to her slow but excel-
lent partner with a fervour which nothing but
death could destroy, she could hardly bear to
think of the period when a few satirical re-
marks, from a sister she did not esteem, had
power to make her feel ashamed of that ex-
cellent companion, who had been so true to
her through life.
If she could have made any decent excuse
for not receiving her sister at Little Upton,
she would have done so ; but there was no
possibility of it. Mrs- Bridge had written to
252 EVELYN HARCOURT.
announce her coming the day before she set
off from London, and, before a letter of ex-
cuses could leave the Rectory, she would have
made her appearance there.
The meeting of the sisters was really ab-
surd. Mrs. Heneage had grown matter-of-
fact and nervous as she grew older ; and she
had attained that time of life when it is more
natural to make a quiet and almost impercep-
tible curtsey, than to seize a person round the
neck and devour them with vehement kisses.
Mrs. Harry, on the other hand, was just now
in the humour for scenes. She had worked
herself up into a belief that she must be
dreadfully agitated on beholding her sister,
and she thought fit to picture her to herself
as she had been when they last met — a pretty,
slight, delicate-looking creature, nursing a
lovely baby of a few months old.
But when she rushed into the drawing-
room, which looked as matter-of-fact and
homely as its inhabitants, and exclaimed.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 253
" Oil est-elle f ou est-elle f cette hien'aimte
Elisabeth f " and up rose Mrs. Heneage's
plump figure with as much haste as her quiet
habits would allow, the revulsion of feeling
was too great. Putting her hands before her
eyes, (having first assured herself of the im-
mediate vicinity of a sofa) Mrs. Eridge sank
down, murmuring, '^ Ah ! je me meurs ! ce
n'est plus mon Elisabeth /" and had a com-
fortable hysteric, not a little to the conster-
nation and amazement of all parties concerned,
but chiefly to that of the beet-root-cheeked
maid, who had never beheld such an exhibition
in her whole life before.
This seemed a bad beginning; but much
more was yet to come — scenes were to be the
order of the day. There was another ''foi-
blesse,'' as Mrs. Harry called it, over " cette
chlre Elisabeth'^ " altered figure, when she
escorted her to her bed-room to dress for
dinner ; and poor Elizabeth had to endure re-
proaches for her indifference and unkindness
254 EVELYN HARCOURT.
in not having a ^^foiblesse " herself. In vain
she protested that it was not her way, and
that, if .9^6 were altered in appearance, Beatrice
really was hardly at all so. Nothing would do !
Mrs. Harry was '^ the most ill- used, least ap-
preciated, most neglected being upon earth :
nobody cared for her — nobody comprehended
her. To her own children, as well as to every
one else, she was a ^'femme incomprise.'"
Mrs. Heneage turned inquiringly to the
daughters ; — the eldest smiled meaningly —
" It is only mamma's way !" whispered she.
" She will be better presently — when dinner
Excuses were made for Mr. Heneage, who
was too unwell to appear. He was afraid he
was about to have a fit of gout — he had
had some sharp twinges the previous night,
and he would, therefore, not leave his room
this evening. To-morrow, he hoped he should
be able to see his sister-in-law, and do the
honours of his own house.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 255
There were no hysterics upon this announce-
ment ; indeed, it seemed rather to have a
calming tendency — and poor Elizabeth, awed
by the degage look with which the impudent
French maid surveyed her cap, sneaked out
of the room, to repeat, for the twentieth time,
to her own unsophisticated maiden, who had
but lately emerged from the village school,
the injunction that the young ladies were to
have on their best frocks for dinner, and that
the cook was to take unheard-of pains with
"Ah fa ! Elisabeth ! I must see your
children !" graciously observed Mrs. Eridge,
when the dessert was placed on the table ;
" how many have you ?"
" Six ; — but the boys are at school, just
now, I am sorry to say !"
" SiJ^ ! ah, c'est affreuoc ! mais, enfin, il
faut les voir, ces petits anges ! Above all, I
must see the enchantinor anp^el I remember..."
" Anne !"
^56 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" Ah, yes I — Anne — "
Mrs. Heneage immediately desired the
young ladies might be summoned ; and, in
the space of a few minutes, in they came,
their faces still red with the extra washing
and scrubbing bestowed upon them by Martha,
in her anxious desire to carry out her mis-
tress's directions, and to " do them justice."
They were not ugly, but they were tho-
roughly British-looking, awkward, and un-
gainly. Their gowns were ill made, their
shoulders high, their arms red, and they wore
very red coral necklaces, and long gloves of a
yellowish colour, drawn up very high indeed.
Full of awe of their cousins, and yet eager
curiosity to behold them, in they marched —
the eldest, a great, overgrown girl, with a
short thick waist, leading the way. But what
was their consternation, when, on their mo-
ther taking Anne, the second, by the hand,
and pointing her out by name to Mrs. Bridge,
that lady uttered a piercing shriek, and.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 257
covering her face with her hands, fell back
in her chair, apparently overcome with horror.
" Good heavens !" cried Mrs. Heneage, ex-
cessively alarmed ; " what is the matter now,
" Oh ! take her away ! take her away !"
cried Mrs. Harry, covering her face with one
hand, and with the other pointing to Anne —
" That the beautiful angel I saw ! Ah !
quelle horreur !.,. Why, it's Monsieur Heneage
lui-meme! Elle lid ressemble comme deux
gouttes (Teaic ! Take her away ! My nerves
won't stand this ! — Je me sens maL,.ah.,, .'"
There was a general confusion ; and the
unfortunate Anne, who was guilty of so strong
a resemblance to her father, sought to conceal
herself behind her sisters, but in vain.
" Mamma is not well to-day," whispered
Adelaide to Mrs. Heneage. " She is often
like this when she has been much excited, but
it will go off presently. You do not under-
stand her yet !"
258 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" No ! nor ever shall !" thought poor Mrs.
Heneage, who was nearly at her wits' end.
Anne was speedily banished from the scene
of action, and flew to increase, if possible,
the curiosity and astonishment of the maids,
which had already been worked up almost
beyond endurance by the strange tales Made-
moiselle Pulcherie Aimee Zemire Felicite
Petit Pierre had to tell of her eccentric mis-
tress, and her wonderful sayings and doings.
Decidedly, if Mrs. Harry had come to
Little Upton with the determination of en-
lightening its inhabitants as to how singular
and disagreeable she could make herself, she
could not have succeeded better. Her con-
duct the whole of this first eveninof was a
series of oddities ! — " Making tea in the
drawing-room," she declared, " was an abo-
mination that no words could sufficiently
condemn; — it was enough to determine any
one to leave England altogether. How could
dear Elizabeth allow her daughters to degrade
EVELYN HARCOURT. 259
themselves by such a practice — worthy only
of barbarians ? How could she hope that any
well -judging man — any one, comme il faut,
would marry girls who were known — actually
known — unblushingly — to make tea in the
drawing-room, and not only to make it, but
apparently to glory in making it !"
" Mais, c'est inconcevable, ces modes an-
glaises ! — c'est emhetant, pa! Ilfaut venir ct
Paris, ma cMrie''
" No, thank you, Beatrice ; I prefer my
own country. To me, there's no place like
" Ah I c'est inoui /" —
Her last words, as her sister accompanied
her to her room, were comforting —
" Merci bien, ma chlre ! — spent a ravishing
evening — ^but these campagnes ! they are sad
to die ! The town, ah ! the town ! speak to
me of that ! On ne s'ennuie pas en ville, il
faut avoiier. — Bonsoir, cJier ange,..''
260 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Reconnois la voix qui frappe ton oreille.
Thus always teasing others — always teased —
Her only pleasure is — to be displeased.
... Ah ! why with us delight to rest !
Hence — far away — tormenting Power,
. . . Ah ! foe to peace ! from us remove
Thy dreaded sway.
^'Ah! quelle chaleur insupportable I mats
on etouffe ipV were the first words poor
Mr. Heneage heard uttered at his bedside, by
a voice whose accents had never at any time
sounded pleasingly in his ears. What with
the sentiment it gave utterance to now, and
his unmitigated horror of the French language
EVELYN HARCOURT. 261
at any time, he felt in for a sharper fit of
gout than usual.
^^ Eh Men, mon ami; et comment pa va-filf
Mais, vous voilcl afft^euseinent clianffel vous
avez Vair (Tim moiirant. It makes fear — cela
fait peur. But one cannot wonder, avec cela
quHl y a ifi une odeur abominable de drogues,
Pouah ! cela ejnpeste ! Tenez, je rtCen vais
vous Jeter toutes ces horreurs lei par lafenMre
— by the window. Permettez,...'''
" Good gracious, ma'am ! I beg you will
do no such thing ! — those medicines are essen-
tial to me. And allow me to say, ma'am,
that as I am but an indifferent French scholar,
if not disagreeable to you, I should prefer the
use of the mother tongue whilst we converse.
I never studied French."
" Ah ! what pity ! Mais il est encore
temps ! — My faith ! what a wicked nightcap !
— quel mediant bonnet de nuit I Mais est ce
qn'on porte une chose semblable f Dieu ! que
cela vous rend laid /"
262 EVELYN HARCOURT.
*' I am sorry my nightcap does not satisfy
you, madam. — This visit is a great honour,
and I rejoice to see you well."
" Me well ! ah, par e^emple ! qui est-ce qui
vous a dit fa f Me well ! when I am dying
of ills of chest — absolutely dying of ills of
chest ! c'est singulier, fa, par esemple .'....
Mais c'est une horreur, que ce bonnet de nuit
" My wife informed me, madam, that you
seemed in excellent health."
" She inform you ! — she know nothing of
me, your wife ; with that that no one care for
me — no one understand my constitution — my
ills ! My children ! they absolutely detest
me ! — It is hardly believable."
" I hope not, ma'am ! I hope not !"
" But I tell you that yes ! — and my own
family, they absolutely render me foolish !
They feel no more for my ills of chest than if
I were an old shoe ! C'est inoui /"
" Really, madam, I cannot believe...."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 263
" But I beg, sir, you not contradict me !
I know these things, I assure you, my good
Mr. a... a... and I suffer with a patience ab-
solutely of a martyr. Ma poitrine me tue !
I know it! — however, I submit...."
" I hope, madam, your fears may exceed
the reality. I believe disease of the chest
generally manifests itself by very consider-
'* Mais non, je vous dis I But now, my
good Mr. a...., when I tell you that to con-
tradict me is certain death — absolutely cer-
tain death.... My ills of nerves are so cruel,
that the smallest contradiction.... Ah ! I shall
have one of my ills of nerves now — on the
instant.... Ah !...."
" Oh ! e:oodness forbid !" cried the unfor-
tunate Mr. Heneage, ringing his bell with ex-
traordinary violence. " Have one moment's
patience, my dear madam ! wait till some one
But Mrs. Bridge's ills of nerves could not
264 EVELYN HARCOURT.
wait any more than their mistress ; and, when
the servant appeared, he found himself de-
stined to the pleasing task of supporting the
strange lady out of the room, as he best
might ; whilst his unfortunate master lay suf-
fering under ills of nerves somewhat more
real than those of Mrs. Bridge.
" Ma femme de chanibre, sur le champ .'"
cried that lady. '' Je me meurs /"
'' Ma'am !"
'' Ma femme de chambre, Nigaud.''
"Nego! — negus, I suppose, she means. —
Beg pardon, ma'am, but I don't understand
" My woman of the chamber, butor /"
" 0— h !"
These scenes were repeated, not once, but
twenty times a day, till the patience of every
one in the house was fairly worn out, and the in-
mates of Little Upton Rectory looked forward
with feelings of intense and desperate longing
EVELYN HARCOURT. ^65
to the time when their extraordinary guest
should think proper to rid them of the ex-
ceeding torment of herself and her nerves.
Poor Mr. Heneage had not had so serious a
fit of gout for many a long day ; and all
owing, as he constantly repeated to his wife,
to the introduction of a mad person into the
house; whilst Mrs. Harry's flattering notice
of him to her sister was — ''Ah pa! ma chlre
Elisabeth, mais ton marl rCa plus le sens com-
mun ! But it is sad — c'est ineme embetant I
He has baddened considerably since I saw
him ! And he carries such an abominable
nightcap ! it absolutely makes me tremble to
see ! How can you support such a horror?....
Ah ! my poor cherished angel, how I pity you !
equally as spouse and mother, your fate is
worthy of tears Ce monstre Icil mais sa
laideur est epouvantable ! fen suis encore touts
tremblante — toiite saisie. ..."
Nothing was more remarkable than the
VOL. I. N
^66 EVELYN HARCOURT.
costumes of various kinds which Mrs. Harry
thought proper to adopt at different hours of
the day. Sometimes she would come down
in the morning in what she called " des pits
flottants,'' like a Grecian statue; sometimes
she would wear a bonnet and green veil at
breakfast ; and oftener still, to walk out in,
an old black pelisse lined with fur, though
the weather was almost too hot to be en-
Her caprices, too, were as endless as her
costumes. Sometimes she would take a fit of
sentiment, and insist upon sitting the whole
morning almost in Mrs. Heneage's pocket,
" pour contempler ct son aise les traits cheris
de cette bonne Elisabeth — cette eoscellente mire
de familhr Sometimes she would entreat
to be left alone, as her ills of nerves made it
absolute torture to her to hear a sound, or
behold a human countenance ; and sometimes
she would complain of the cruelty of every
one, in abandoning her to herself — she, who
EVELYN HARCOURT. 267
could never endure solitude without havintr
an attack of " les vapeurs /"
^' Ah fa, Mr. a , je vais quitter voire
tranquille demeure — the asylum of peace !"
exclaimed she, one morning, as she entered
the breakfast-room, where Mr. Heueage had
resumed his usual place. This was too exhi-
larating news to be quarrelled with, even
though expressed in French ; and Mr. Heneage
reflected with rapture how much more tran-
quil his " demeure " would be under such
" Indeed, ma'am !" replied he, endeavour-
ing not to look too cheerful. ** In what di-
rection do you contemplate bending your
'* Ah ! I shall go to Mr. Bridge, the father
of my lost tresor, car il me faut ahsolument
de V argent! D'abord, je rCen ai point. I
have nothing but fifty-three half-crowns —
that is absolutely all !"
** Fifty-three half-crowns, Mrs. Bridge !"
268 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" But I tell you that is all "
Adelaide was heard explaining, in a low
voice to her cousins, that mamma had a pecu-
liarity — whenever a half-crown was given her
in change, she always put it away in a bag
she kept for the purpose. She said it would
be more useful with other half-crowns than by
Looks were exchanged — and one or two
smiles quickly suppressed, when Mrs. Bridge's
voice was heard again —
" I have written to Frederic, to come and
conduct me to the father of my adorable
defunt ; and he writes to me that he shall be
here after to-morrow — aprh demain, ou bien
not till the week following. S'il retards son
arrivee — ah ! I wait here."
A dead silence followed this announcement.
It is needless to observe that ardent vows
were offered up for the speedy arrival of
" Ah ! I see it all !" cried Mrs. Eridge,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 2G9
after a pause, her eyes sparkling with pas-
sion. " You die of envy to disembarrass
yourselves of me — to get me out from this
roof ! — I see it ! Your hurting silence is
more shocking than words And these poor
angels !" turning to her daughter — " Eh Men,
itres cheris, sidvez-moi ; nous allons moiirir
sur le grand chemin. This is no more an
asylum for us. We go die on the grand
road in each other's arms ! "
But her daughters manifested no desire to
die under any such circumstances. They did
not even rise from their seats when she moved
towards the door ; so that, finding herself
unattended in her flight, she thought better
of it, and sank down in an arm-chair, ex-
claiming, in a pathetic tone, ''Ahl je n'en
puis plus ! Je me sens atteinte au cceur /"
The youngest of the Hen cages began to
giggle convulsively, and to pinch her sister's
'' It is very unkind to talk so, sister !" sai
270 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Mrs. Heneage, with a manner of almost hope-
less dejection, " We do all we can to make
you comfortable. I'm sure I strive, from
morning till night, but I don't know how to
manage to satisfy you...."
" What would you have, madam — what
would you have?" urged Mr. Heneage's
stronger voice, in a tone of very considerable
Mrs. Eridge put her fingers into her ears —
" Ah I mais quelle horreur ! cette voia^ Id
me fait mal auw dents. My hairs dress them-
selves up ! Ah, 'par e£i?emple ! I am glad I
am not of your paroisse, my dear Mr. a... a,
if you preach like that !"
And Mrs. Harry, having placed herself in
convenient vicinity to the sofa, gave out the
usual announcement that she had " a weak-
ness ;" and sank back in hysterics into the
arms of her sister and her daughters.
The next day, being Sunday, the lady de-
clared her intention of going to hear her bro-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 271
ther-in-law preach ; an attention which, after
the insinuation of the previous day respecting
his voice, he could just as well have dispensed
with. " Her ills of chest, indeed," she said,
" had never been worse ; but that was no
matter ; go she would, even if she had to be
carried into church !"
Mr. Heneage felt nervous, what with cer-
tain twinges in his right foot, and the appre-
hension of her remarks ; and when he saw
the lady sailing majestically up the aisle in a
Greek cap, embroidered by herself, a cashmere
shawl negl'gently thrown over her shoulders,
and the aforementioned fur pelisse, and per-
ceived that the eyes of the whole congrega-
tion were fixed with unspeakable wonder
upon her, he felt himself actually blushing
with shame and vexation in his own reading-
desk ! There was, however, no help for it ;
and, excepting that she insisted on singing
the psalms considerably louder than any other
person, notwithstanding the hints of her
272 EVELYN HARCOURT.
daughters, her conduct in church was per-
fectly decorous and inoffensive.
The next day ended the endurance of the
Heneages; Frederic arrived, and Mrs. Harry
and her daughters took their departure for
The old lady and gentleman had never seen
their daughter-in-law but once, shortly after
her marriage, and they retained but a slight
recollection of her person. They felt some-
what nervous when they found she was coming
to Oriel ; but they prepared to receive her
with the cordiality due to the widow of their
son ; and they rejoiced to find that her bro-
ther, whom they sincerely liked, was coming
Mrs. Harry had determined upon a scene,
of course, on arriving — scenes being always
her passion ; but she was frustrated in her
intention by the good old couple coming out
to the porch to receive her. She would not,
however, be entirely baulked ; — she darted
EVELYN HARCOURT. 273
out of the carriage the moment she perceived
them, and, rushing up to the old gentleman,
exclaimed — ^^ Ah ! d la Jin je le vois ! le
pere de man tresor ! Ah ! what delicious
emotion humects my eyelids !"
The father of her treasure, however, who
scarcely understood a word of French, kept
shaking her by the hand, and repeating —
** Thank ye, ma'am, thank ye ! — ^glad to see ye,
my dear ma'am l^These fine lassies my grand-
daughters ? — bless their hearts — thank ye,
ma'am ! Helen, ray love, these are your
cousins — your poor Uncle Harry's children,
you know, love. Ay, poor boy !"
The old lady was equally hospitable in her
way, though she looked with amazement upon
her daughter-in-law's Greek cap, fur pelisse,
and other singularities ; and wondered, just
as keenly as she had done years ago, how
dear Harry could ever have fancied so strange
" Dear ma'am ! sure you must be tired —
274 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and you, my dears ! — but I hope you'll refresh
yourselves before dinner. Captain Percy,
ain't they tired? — not at all — oh! well!
young folks don't tire so easily, I know. We
had the dear boys here lately, ma'am ; —
so grown ! quite men ! Bless their hearts ! —
we were so concerned to lose them !"
" Ah I qu'il est doua; pour le coeur d'une
mere ! — it is very gentle for the mother's heart
to hear such distinguished testimony — such
high consideration for the delights of her
" Bless me !" thought Mr. Bridge ; " one
would think she were French in reality. Can
it be poor Harry's widow, after all ? . . . "
In the mean time, Helen's thoughts and
feelings were neither idle nor insensible. She
was beginning to be conscious of certain sen-
sations, which, though of a novel and agita-
ting, were by no means of an unpleasing kind.
How much indeed had she not felt at the
prospect of meeting Frederic Percy again !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 275
How often had she endeavoured to picture to
herself the expression of his countenance —
the manner of his greeting ! Had he looked
forward to seeing her with any of the same
pleasure of which she had been conscious?
She longed to know.
What a strano^e thino^ is love ! That one
little instant, when their hands met, and they
exchanged a few words of common salutation
— so common, that all the world might have
heard them — repaid Helen for days and nights
of restless thought, and a degree of dejection
for which she could scarcely account to her-
self. For one single moment, her hand rested
in his, and his eyes were fixed on hers — not
" I must make you acquainted with my
nieces," said he, giving them a little friendly
push towards her. " They are naughty girls,
but, after a little of your example, we may
hope they will become better."
She soon felt perfectly at ease with these
276 EVELYN HARCOURT.
young ladies; and tlieyj on their part, en-
chanted to find one so gentle, sympathizing,
and amiable as she was, speedily confided all
their crriefs to her — their trials from mamma,
their weariness, their detestation of the life
they led, all their sorrows, in short ; whilst
she listened, sympathized, and advised.
The evening of their arrival, Mrs. Harry
announced herself to be too '' soufrante,''
too overcome by the agitation of beholding
the parents of her 'Uresor,'' to appear at
dinner ; the good old couple, therefore, who
really believed her to be unwell, were unre-
mitting in their attentions, their messages,
and offers of service. They laid it all down
to her tenderness for the memory of their son,
and were all the better disposed in her favour
in consequence. But the next day she again
declared herself unable to appear ; " her ills
of nerves were so severe ;" — and she accord-
ingly solaced herself in her own room with
reading a French novel she had picked up in
EVELYN HARCOURT. ^77
a town on the road ; and by that means left
the rest of the party at liberty to amuse
themselves, after their own fashion — a treat
her unfortunate daughters were but little ac-
customed to, and which they enjoyed doubly
" Oh, Uncle Fred !" cried Adelaide, as he
lingered with them by the waterside for a
few moments, after Helen had gone in to
dress for dinner, " what a charming creature
Miss Eridge is ! and so pretty ! How I do love
her already ! Why did you never tell us
what a sweet creature she was ?"
"/* she a sweet creature ?"
" Oh ! Uncle Fred, don't you think so ?"
** He does, I am sure," said Julia ; " he
But Uncle Fred had thrown a stone into
the water ; and he seemed to be attentively
watching the circles it had occasioned, as
they grew wider and wider. His thoughts
were evidently not with the present scene.
278 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" \Miat are you thinking about so intently.
Uncle Fred ?" inquired Adelaide, looking up
in his face with a certain degree of curiosity.
" I was thinking does your mother come
down to dinner to-day, or not ?"
" And is that all you were thinking about
— reflecting so deeply Oh! you are not
telling us truth ! — it was something else —
something much more important than that.
Now, what was it — I am dying to know I"
" Is your mother coming down, naughty
"Oh! I really don't know ?.... she did not
say she should not, so I suppose so.... But
why do you care so particularly to know?....
do tell me...."
** Because let us go in and dress for
dinner, that we may be down before her..."
"Now, Uncle Fred, how can you be so
EVELYN HARCOURT. 279
Clytemnestre. C'est done a moi d'embrasser vos genoux —
Achille (la relevant). Ah, madame !
I love not many words.
Airs Well that Ends Well
O, I shall die for food ! Here will I lie down, and mea-
sure out my grave.
As you Like it.
Pand. Lady, you utter madness, and not sorrow.
Const. I am not mad — I would to Heaven I were,
For then 'tis like I should forget myself.
Oh, if I could, what griefs should I forget !
Mr. Bridge was one day sitting quietly in
his own antique justice-room, thinking to him-
self what a blessing it was to rest a little after
the excitement of Mrs. Harry's sharp voice
and endless superlatives, w^hen the door sud-
denly opened, and Mrs. Harry herself walked
280 EVELYN HARCOURT.
in. The poor old gentleman would almost as
soon have seen a ghost ; but, before he had
had time to recover from the shock of her
appearance, he found his knees tightly com-
pressed between two sharp bony hands, and a
head, encompassed in a scarlet cap with a
green tassel, laid upon them.
*' Ah, my father ! my respectable heau-'
pere /" sobbed Mrs. Harry.
" Bless me, ma'am ! oh dear !" cried her
^eaw-p^^^, struggling frantically to free him*
self. " Pray !....dear me !....what can ! oh,
But still his knees were compressed as
though in a vice,
" Excellent father of a family ! father of
my tresor I you see the wife of your adorable
son denuee de tout ! I am without money ;
I come to you for succour !"
Mr. Bridge's first feeling was one of in-
dignation at this address ; but even that was
absorbed in his intense desire to effect the
EVELYN HARCOURT. 281
emancipation of his knees. The woman's fin-
gers must be of iron !
** Ma'am, excuse me ; but I must beg,
ma'am, you will rise from that posture — so
extremely unbecoming my poor son Harry's
widow, and on all accounts so highly.... ma'am,
I do assure you, you occasion me serious in-
'^ Ah, je me meurs T cried Mrs. Harry,
gently sinking backwards upon the footstool
of this " father of a family."
But, after a moment's reflection, it occurred
to her that it was an impolitic moment in
which to faint, just when she had got him all
to herself, and might effect something import-
ant. Having, therefore, as she said, ''fait
des efforts inouis,'' she raised herself upon a
chair, and proceeded to tremble in a very dis-
tressing and remarkable manner, and to smell
incessantly at a salts bottle, with a massive
gold top, studded with precious stones.
Mr. Bridge, finding his knees thus happily
282 EA^ELYN HARCOURT.
delivered, then began to expostulate with her.
He recapitulated all he had done for her at
different times — alluded to the warning he
had given on the last occasion of his paying
her debts, that he would never do the same
for her again — and declared that he could not
consider himself justified in impoverishing
others to meet the demands of her extrava-
gance ; and that, in short, he could not and
would not afford her any larger allowance than
that she now received.
"But I am denuee de tout, I tell you, my
respectable parent ! you will not refuse suc-
cour to the widow of your adorable. ..."
"Ma'am, the adorable widow of my son
should learn common sense. You'll excuse
me, ma'am, but I'm an old man, and a plain-
spoken one, and I honestly confess I don't
understand three words of what you say. I
wouldn't be harsh, ma'am — it's not my nature
— but I can't, I really can't stand by and see
such.... In short, ma'am, to be plain with you,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 283
which is always the best way, I cannot and
will not give you any more money."
" Then I starve on the grand road with my
children! Barbarous! you see me starve...."
*' Ma'am !"
" Yes, I disembarrass you of me and of my
young girls — those children of love ! — on the
moment we set out !"
"Bless my soul, ma'am ! Mrs. Harry "
" Ob, my ills of nerves ! they attack me ! —
Je me trouve mall ah !...."
Mr. Bridge was more discomposed than he
had been for years. He knew not what to do.
His wife had never fainted in her life, or at
least not to his knowledge, and it was a sort
of thing in which he had no experience what-
ever. His kind heart began to smite him for
harshness to the widow of his son ; yet, he
could not but think that widow very odious,
and her extravagance utterly unpardonable.
And to talk of quitting the house ! of starving,
too ! It was really an insult !
284 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Mrs. Harry was presently conveyed out of
the room in a state of rigid and angry insen-
sibility, though every now and then there were
sighs, groans, and bursts of consciousness
strangely to the purpose, inasmuch as the
words, "Grand road !"— " Starve !" and " My
tresorP' were distinctly audible.
For several days after this scene, she
thought proper to sulk in her own room,
much to the relief of the old lady and Helen,
though not to that of her unfortunate daugh-
ters, whom she obliged to be almost constantly
with her, simply in order that she might have
some one on whom to vent her spleen.
Frederic Percy was indignant at the tyranny
and injustice of her conduct towards these
gentle and unoffending girls, whose only fault
was that they were, if possible, too yielding,
too ready to submit to her caprices without a
murmur. But there was no redress. She
would not listen even to his remonstrances ;
she had been baffled in her attempts to obtain
EVELYN HARCOURT. 285
money, disappointed in her own wishes, and
now she was in one of her worst fits of ill-
humour and obstinacy.
At length, after many days, the lady con-
descended to reappear below ; but her manner
was strikingly altered from w^hat it had been,
and her countenance wore a sullen and gloomy
It was her general practice in the evenings
to stretch herself on the sofa and go to sleep;
and every now and then she would wake up,
and, after staring for a few moments with an
expression of ineffable disgust at the tranquil
figure of the old lady, as she sat in her high-
backed chair at her eternal knitting, would
exclaim, ''Ah, del! mah c est triste amourir
icil c'est consider ahlement embetant, parole
d'honneurl Si cela dure, fen deriendrai
folle " and would then compose herself to
sleep again, whilst an occasional snore of a
portentous description would cause Helen to
start and stop short in her reading; her
286 EVELYN HARCOURT.
grandmother, who was slightly deaf, to look
round, with a puzzled expression, in search of
the cause of so extraordinary a sound ; and
the rest of the party to exchange glances and
smiles with one another. But no one heeded
her— no one attempted to disturb her ; it was
found better to leave her on all occasions en-
tirely to her own devices ; for opposition or
remonstrance of any kind, however slight,
only served to exasperate her, and of course
occasioned a risk of one of those terrible
" attaques de nerfs,'' which had now become a
matter of positive dread to the old couple.
In the mean time, whilst the sister was thus
rendering herself anything but agreeable to
the inmates of Oriel, the brother was each day
becoming a greater favourite with them all.
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge had grown quite fond of
him — he was so cheerful, so entertaining, so
gentlemanlike ! He never seemed to think it
irksome nor troublesome to talk to them — to
devote himself to their pleasure. He would
EVELYN HARCOURT. 287
read to them half the evening, if they liked it ;
and he was always ready to accommodate his
step to the slower one of the old man during
his walks, or to listen to the somewhat mono-
tonous prosing of Mrs. Evidge about her school
and her poor, her clergyman and her parish.
In short, he was charming ; and it was difficult
to say which of the two delighted in him most.
As for Helen, my readers will already have
formed a tolerably shrewd guess as to the
nature of her feelings ; it is therefore unne-
cessary for me to allude to them more par-
ticularly, except to observe that the more she
associated with him, and the more she saw of
the excellence of his disposition and goodness
of his heart, the stronger those feelings natu-
Frederic Percy was much struck with the
great change that had taken place in Helen's
spirits since last he saw lier. Nothing could
have been more cheerful or lighthearted than
she was during his first visit to Oriel; but
288 EVELYN HARCOURT.
now she was often both serious and abstracted
— sometimes even apparently unhappy. Little
did he imagine that he himself had something
to do with her absent and thoughtful de-
meanour, and that he occasioned her many an
anxious and painful feeling, though often, too,
very delicious ones. But the truth was, that
Helen had at this time a cause of depression
totally unconnected with Frederic Percy.
The unkindness of Evelyn had sunk deep into
her heart. It was the first great mortification
she had experienced in life ; but it was one
from which she thought she should never en-
tirely recover — never, certainly, could its re-
membrance be effaced from her memory. That
Evelyn should doubt her, should refuse to be-
lieve her positive assertions, and even to listen
to her, was as wonderful as it was terrible;
that they should have parted in anger, on one
side at least, was agonizing to reflect upon —
and all on account of a promise of secresy
which had been extorted from her, and which
EVELYN HARCOURT. 289
she was too conscientious to break, but which
she now bitterly repented ever having given.
Sometimes, she thought of writing to Mr.
Sherborne, and entreating him to release her
from this promise, or at least to make an ex-
ception in favour of Evelyn ; but then, what
reason could she assign to him for such a re-
quest? Might not he suspect, or at least infer,
something of Evelyn's jealousy, and of her
love for himself from it ?
And, after all, was it not kinder to Evelyn
not to undeceive her at present ? If she con-
tinued to believe that Mr. Sherborne were at-
tached to another person, she might conquer
her own passion for him in time; but, as long
as she fancied him free, it was clear she would
still hope on; and Helen believed that it would
be hope thrown away. She felt convinced
that he had no feeling for Evelyn beyond that
of interest for a pleasing and captivating per-
son ; — there was nothing like love on his side,
she felt only too certain.
VOL. I. O
290 EVELYN HARCOURT.
But we may as well explain the circum-
stances that gave rise to this unfortunate mis-
understandingbetween the friends; and, in order
to do so, we must carry our readers back to the
period of Helen's last visit in Grosvenor Square.
A few days after her arrival there, she had
chanced, in the course of conversation, to al-
lude to the singular Recluse whom she had so
strangely discovered a short time before at
Wynnesland. Lady Belharris and several
gentlemen were present, and there had been a
discussion about handwriting; some of the
party maintaining that it was indicative of
character, and others denying positively that
it was so. Evelyn took from her own and
her friend's reticules all the letters they con-
tained, and, half in jest, half in earnest, held
them out, that the directions might be scru-
tinized, and the characters of the writers de-
duced from them. Among the rest was a
letter from Mrs. Howard, whose writing was
very peculiar. On this being examined and
EVELYN HARCOITRT. 291
commented upon, Mr. Chisliolm, one of the
gentlemen present, appeared much struck by
it, and begged to be allowed to examine it
more closely. Helen observed at the time
that his manner was peculiar, and that his
countenance changed as he looked nearer at
it ; and thinking that he might possibly know
something of Mrs. Howard, she took an op-
portunity, whilst the others were still busily
discussing their theories, to inquire whether
he were acquainted with her.
His answer was confused — almost unintel-
ligible ; and he immediately began to ask so
many questions respecting Mrs. Howard, with
so much eagerness and anxiety, that Helen
could scarcely reply to them — and, at last,
when the conversation of the others seemed
to be dying away, he whispered an agitated
entreaty that she would say nothing to any
one of what had passed, nor indeed mention
Mrs. Howard again. " It might be of the
very greatest consequence !"
292 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Helen of course promised, imagining from
his excited manner that the Recluse might be
some relation of his, with whose place of abode
he had thus accidentally become acquainted ;
and she only trusted that by her unintentional
betrayal of it to him, she had done her poor
friend no injury.
Some time elapsed, and she saw no more of
Mr. Chisholm. But, one afternoon, during
their ride, Mr. Sherborne approached, and in
a low voice informed her that that gentleman
was at Wynnesland, whither he had gone al-
most immediately after the conversation with
her which we have alluded to ; that he had
seen Mrs. Howard, unknown to herself, and
made inquiries respecting her, and that he had
every reason to believe she was a relation of
his own, who had been long supposed to be
dead. She was, however, so altered in ap-
pearance, (if it were she) that he could feel
no positive certainty as to her identity, and
being apprehensive, from the accounts he had
EVELYN HARCOURT. 293
heard from the Penrhyns, of her state of mind,
that, if he were to present himself suddenly
before her, it might have a powerful and inju-
rious effect upon her nerves, he had commis-
sioned Mr. Sherborne to inquire of Miss Eridge
whether she could give no further clue, no in-
formation, respecting this singular individual,
which might lead to a greater certainty in his
mind as to her real name. " Much," Mr.
Sherborne said, " depended on her identity
being proved. There was very large property
to which she was entitled, if it were she ; and
Mr. Chisholm was in a state of the most pain-
ful and intense anxiety upon the subject.
Above all, he insisted on the strictest and
most solemn secresy ; there were circum-
stances connected with his relation, which on
no account would he have proclaimed to the
world, or even inquired into. His friend Mr.
Sherborne must prevail upon Miss Eridge to
give the most solemn promise to betray to no
living being a syllable connected with the
294 EVELYN HARCOURT.
affair — not even to allude to it in the remotest
Helen gave all the information in her power,
but it was little enough, as my readers are
already aware. She knew of no person with
whom Mrs. Howard was in the habit of cor-
responding — of no other name by which she
had been at any time known. She was even
ignorant in what manner or from whence she
received her little income, or what had been
her place of abode before she came to Wynnes-
land. All she knew of her was her sorrow,
and her strange endurance ; and of that she
told what she had seen and heard — the dark
hints — the mysterious allusions — the occa-
sional self-accusations that had burst forth, as
it were, in spite of herself. When asked by
Mr. Sherborne the fearful question whether
she believed her to be insane, she unhesi-
tatingly answered, " No ! Her manner was
not that of insanity, but of a deep and intense
mental anguish, which might in the end pro-
EVELYN HARCOURT. S95
dace, though it had not yet as she believed
Mr. Chisholm was awaiting Helen's answer,
before he should decide on presenting himself
to Mrs. Howard, and making the inquiries he
desired, himself. He wished to know more
particularly what, in her opinion, would be the
risk of a person suddenly presenting himself
before her, who had been connected with the
former cause of her sorrow, and whom she
sought, perhaps, to avoid.
Helen could only urge great caution in
such an attempt. She thought that, in Mrs.
Howard's condition, it was impossible to fore-
see the effect of any fresh agony — any un-
closing of former wounds, which were yet so
far from being healed. She would give no
advice ; how could she, where she did not
even know the circumstances ? But she urged
the greatest caution, and, if possible, prepara-
tion by letter.
On the day of the breakfast at Mr. Euston
296 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Trevor's, Mr. Sherborne had received an agi»
tated note from his friend, saying that he had
at last had an interview with Mrs. Howard,
whom he now knew beyond a doubt to be his
long lost relative ; but that what had passed
between them during their meeting had been
of a nature to make it rather to be hoped that
she was insane.
And now he knew not what to do ; for,
since their interview, she had quitted the
Penrhyns, and no traces of her could be dis-
covered. Her absence had not been detected
at first, for, as she was in the habit of often
locking herself into her room for hours toge-
ther, (at which times no one ever thought (rf
disturbing her) her having fastened her door
on this occasion excited no remark ; and she
must have been gone many hours before her
departure was even suspected. It was dis-
covered, too, first, in the evening, so late, that
it was impossible to take any steps towards
pursuing her that night ; and when the Pen-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 297
rhyns, alarmed beyond measure at her disap-
pearance, made every possible inquiry con-
cerning her the next morning, they never
thought of the only really efficient step,
namely, sending to inform Mr. Chisholm of it;
for though they were aware, from his frequent
and minute inquiries, that he was interested
about her, they were totally ignorant of his
recent meeting with her, which indeed he had
purposely contrived should take place during
one of her distant walks.
Two days, therefore, elapsed before he was
even informed of her escape ; and then, when
he did set on foot the most vigilant inquiry,
not the smallest trace of her could be dis-
covered. The Pen rhyns' fears all tended to-
wards self-destruction ; they had often dreaded
such a result during her paroxysms of severer
suffering ; and they declared their belief that
she was far more likely to be found in some
one of the adjacent ponds, which they per-
sisted in dragging day after day, than in any
298 EVELYN HARCOURT.
crowded city or secluded cottage 1 But Mr.
Chisholm knew enough to feel a very tolerable
certainty that the unfortunate lady had not
destroyed herself. Her sudden departure was
to him perfectly to be accounted for ; but he
was not the less anxious to discover her place
She had left most of her scanty wardrobe
behind her, and a note, begging Mrs. Pen-
rhyn's acceptance of it, and of the amount of
rent due up to that day three months. A few
w^ords of thanks and farewell to the family
were added, but the letter afforded not the
slightest clue as to her intentions or destina-
tion. A sentence, however, at the end, half
erased, but with some difficulty made out as
far as it had gone, might, it was hoped, lead to
some discovery in the end.
' ' Pray put the enclosed letter to Miss Eridge
in the post immediately after "
She had probably changed her mind, and
reflected that it would be better to post this
EVELYN HARCOURT. 299
letter herself, than to trust it to others ; but
one fact might be gathered from the mention
of it — that she had written a letter, which
Helen would probably soon receive.
Mr. Chisholm therefore begged his friend
to inquire immediately whether Miss Eridge
had heard from her, and if she had, what was
the substance of her communication, and what
the postmark of her letter. Helen had re-
ceived none as yet, but she promised to inform
Mr. Sherborne as soon as she should do so ;
and it was the discussion of this matter which
had occasioned their confidential communica-
tion on the day of the party at Mr. Euston
Trevor's, and which had so cruelly excited
poor Evelyn's jealousy.
The next morning — the morning of the
friend's quarrel — Helen had received the ex-
pected letter, which she was on the point of
enclosing to Mr. Sherborne, when that gen-
tleman himself appeared in Grosvenor Square,
with a message from Mr. Chisholm, who had
300 EVELYN HARCOURT.
arrived in town, and was anxious to have an
interview with Helen himself,
Mrs. Howard's letter was as follows : — >
"My beloved young friend will be surprised
— and in her gentle kindness even distressed—*
to hear that the unfortunate being to whom
she devoted herself with such noble generosity,
has left her late asylum at the Penrhyns. My
reasons for doing so, I cannot divulge ; but
this much I may say, that, since I lost you, I
have endured a shock greater than any I have
known for years — one that made it impossible
for me to continue where I was. I am, there-
fore, once more a wanderer on the face of the
earth, and you will never again have the
peaceful tenour of your life disturbed by the
sight of misery such as mine. I shall see you
no more, my dearly loved Helen, but the bless-
ing of one, heart-broken, but not ungrateful,
will be yours, and you shall never be forgotten
in my prayers. Farewell "
EVELYN HARCOURT. 301
This letter was dated from Wyiinesland on
the day of her departure from thence ; but it
had only a twopenny postmark upon it, and
must therefore have been brought to London
either by herself, or some one else, and posted
Mr. Sherborne promised to deliver it to his
friend, and earnestly entreated Helen to grant
that friend a few moments' interview. It was
true she could probably tell him nothing he
did not already know, but he had set his heart
upon seeing her, and, harassed and depressed
as he had been by the whole occurrence, Mr.
Sherborne was anxious this boon should not
be denied him. Helen at length therefore
consented to see him ; and it was whilst dis-
cussing the best time for him to call upon her
that Evelyn had entered, and detected her and
Mr. Sherborne together.
The quarrel that immediately followed be-
tween the girls determined Helen upon re-
turning home at once, which, as she had her
302 EVELYN HARCOURT.
own maid with her, she was fortunately able
to do ; and having hastily made her prepara-
tions, and left a note with one of the servants
for Mr. Sherborne, informing him of the sud-
den change in her plans, and the consequent
impossibility of her seeing his friend, she took
her departure with a melancholy and crushed
From that time she had heard nothing fur-
ther of Mrs. Howard, but Mr. Sherborne had
returned her that lady's letter, promising to
inform her immediately if his friend should
succeed in discovering any traces of the fugi-
My readers must excuse this long and
tedious digression, which was necessary, how-
ever, to preserve the thread of the narrative,
and explain the reasons of Helen's conduct.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 303
Paul. The sweetest, dearest, creature's dead.
\st Lord. The higher powers forbid!
Paul. She's dead . . .
... go and see : if you can bring
Tincture or lustre in her cheek, her eye —
Heat outwardly, or breath within, I'll serve you
As I would do the gods.
V enfant. Je I'ainie.
Leonor. Vous I'aimez !
A de plus hauts partis, Rodriques doit pretendre.
''' Ah fa, my dear Fred ! — what a horrible
person the young Bridge ! " observed Mrs.
Harry to her brother one evening, as they
were descending the stairs on their way to
the library, where the family were assembled
just before tea.
304 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" Pray, who do you mean by the young*
'* But, as if you did not know la jeune
Bridge — that one they call Helen ! She is
" I differ ftom you then. I think her
" Ah, defend me from her ! — a young person
who in this moment makes the tea in the
saloon ! You are infinitely too civil to her !
Now won't she go and fall in love with you ?
My faith, yes !"
Her brother fixed his eyes intently on her
" If you think proper to talk so of Miss
Bridge, sister, I must beg you will not allude
to her ao^ain before me. I will not suffer her
to be made . . . . "
" Ah, is it possible ! My worst suspicions
verified ! Mais elle Va ensorcele, cette petite
morveuse ! Well, my brother, I would ra-
ther see you spread out dead before me,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 305
than behold you the spouse of that detest-
" Silence, or we shall quarrel !" cried Fre-
deric, in a fierce tone, " and that I do not
wish to do for your sake, as well as that of
your children. But, by heavens, you shall
not abuse that girl in my presence !"
As he spoke, they approached the library-
door, and he entered the room with a feeling
of greater irritation than he was often con-
scious of. But the scene of happy domestic
peace that met his view in that quaint old
library soon calmed him into a better frame
The venerable old man was sitting in his
accustomed chair, listening to the voice of his
grand -daughter, who was reading to him,
according to nightly custom. As Frederic
entered, Helen raised her, eyes, and for one
short moment they rested upon him ; but they
were instantly withdrawn again, and fell upon
the page before her. There was something,
306 EVELYN HARCOURT.
however, in that momentary glance that filled
his heart with gladness, and made all things
appear suddenly bright to him. And with
what delight did he listen to the tones of that
gentle voice, which was a little, a very little
lowered since his entrance ! —
He placed himself in an arm-chair at some
distance, where he could observe her without
her seeing him ; and then, pretending to com-
pose himself to sleep, he in reality abandoned
himself to the dreamy delight of his own
thoughts. He heard Mrs. Harry's audible
sighs, her Mon Dieu^ ! and " quel horreur^ /"
evidently levelled at him, without betraying
the smallest consciousness ; he observed her
take off her " bonnet a V impossible,''' as she
chose to denominate the strange mass of
frippery with which her maid had bedizened
her head, and arrange herself on the sofa to
sleep; he heard the jocular observations of
his nieces to each other concerning his own
drowsiness ; and perceived Helen turn round,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 307
and give one hasty glance at him, as she over-
heard them too. But still he affected to be
unconscious, and, as no one disturbed him, he
was able to admire at his ease those long, fair,
silken ringlets, the graceful head, and beau-
tiful form of the young girl, as she sat beside
her old grandfather, with the quaintly-bound
volume in her hand.
What a picture it was ! with the sombre
wainscot, and the gigantic carved mantel-
piece, forming an admirable background,
which threw out into light those two exquisite
heads, each exquisite in its own way ; whilst
the figure of the old woman quietly knitting
in the shade, with her sober-coloured gar-
ments, added inexpressibly to the effect of
At length, the chapter was finished, Helen
closed the book, and there was a short pause,
during which Frederic affected suddenly to
rouse himself, and, jumping up, advanced to-
wards the tea-table, where he knew Helen
308 EVELYN HARCOURT.
would immediately join his nieces. She was,
however, arrested in the act of doing so by
" Helen, love, I've been knitting very
strangely, I'm afraid, somehow ! Do just
come and undo this knot for me before you
make tea, there's a dear ! I can't see as I
used, even with my specs; but young folks
like you . . . . "
Helen took the knitting. Perhaps she
might wish that it had not required her assist-
ance just then ; but, if such a thought occurred
to her, she did not give it utterance, but qui-
etly, according to custom, undid the knots, set
it to rights, and returned it to Mrs. Eridge.
" It is all right now, grandmamma."
But the old lady did not answer. She had
sunk back in her chair, with her spectacles in
her hand, tired and weary.
Helen laid the work upon her lap.
" Here is your knitting, ma'am — it is ready
for you now."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 309
" Come, come ! you must rouse yourself,
my dear Mary," said Mr. Eridge ; *' you know
you always scold me if I let you get dozing
after dinner ! Musn't be lazy, my love."
'* Grandmamma, grandmamma !" cried Helen,
in a voice whose piercing tones penetrated to
the hearts of all within that chamber.
Every one was up in a moment — every one
instantly surrounded the arm-chair of Mrs.
There she was, apparently asleep, her eyes
closed, and her countenance wearing its own
gentle and benevolent expression. There was
almost a smile upon her lips. Her gray hair
was parted on her still smooth brow ; one
hand was on her knees, on which her spec-
tacles had dropped ; the other rested on the
arm of the chair, in an attitude of the most
profound repose. It looked like sleep; but
it was, in reality, the sleep which knows no
waking — it was death I
Who can describe the scene that followed ?
310 EVELYN HARCOURT.
— the unspeakable anguish of the old man —
the agony of Helen — the horror of all ! What
a contrast that chamber now, to what it had
been but a few moments before, when Peace
had seemed to brood there, breathing an
atmosphere of sanctity around ! Now Death
had entered — unseen, unheard — without a
moment's warning, and had sought out one of
the little circle — one so beloved !
In a space of time almost incredible, me-
dical assistance was procured ; the servants
flew in the cause of their beloved mistress.
No one would abandon hope — no one would
believe it was really death !
And when, at length, it became but too
plain that she was gone, that no earthly
power could recal her, and even the aged
widower knelt him down beside the breathless
remains of her with whom he had spent a
lifetime, and bowed his head beneath his
calamity — each, even of the household, retired
for a time to some secret place, where they
EVELYN HARCOURT. 311
might weep away some of their heart-sorrow ;
and not an eye closed that weary night
throughout the house.
The news spread like wildfire in the sur-
rounding neighbourhood. The poor, with
whom she had mixed for years on terms not
of mere charity, but of daily intercourse and
friendly sympathy, mourned as for a parent ;
and numbers flocked to the house the follow-
ing days, with the touching entreaty that they
might be allowed some trifle the lady had
touched, be it ever so small — a sock or a
mitten she had knitted, or a few stitches of
her work. " It should be kept for her pre-
cious sake, just to remind of her goodness,
and how she had been beloved by her own
poor ! "
There was scarcely an individual, high or
low, for miles round, who did not attend her
funeral ; and though there was no pomp, no
ostentation, no train of hired mourners, there
was the heartfelt sorrow which cannot be
312 EVELYN HARCOURT.
bought, and which nothing but a life of good-
ness can produce.
Every one was astonished at the firm-
ness of the old man, and every one honoured
him for the manly fortitude, the beautiful
submission, with which he bent beneath a
blow to him utterly overwhelming. That
he mourned with a sorrow not to be com-
forted, could be seen by his hollow eye and
changed countenance ; but it was not a
sorrow without hope. He looked forward
to meeting her again in a Land w^here
they should never be parted more. She
was only gone before him, where he hoped
soon to follow !
Many a fireside was melancholy the day of
that funeral, and many a group of careless
children moved about with subdued voices —
and many a poor, hard-working woman found
the tears constantly rise to her eyes, as she
remembered that the good old lady of Oriel
was gone to her last long home, and would
EVELYN HARCOURT. 3 1 3
never be seen any more among the dependants
whom she had cherished !
Frederic Percy was the greatest comfort
and assistance to Mr. Eridge at this time ; and
his kind thoughtfulness spared him many of
those afflicting details which necessarily follow
such an event. The old man had conceived a
real affection for him, and would frequently
speak of his kindness with strong emotion to
Helen, who, if she said but little on such occa-
sions, felt perhaps only so much the more.
As for Mrs. Harry, she had continued invi-
sible since the melancholy event. For the
first week after it, she had had a series of
hysterical fits and attaques defoiblesse, which
had nearly worn out her unfortunate daughters
and maid, whom she kept in close attendance
upon her, and who were forced to take it by
turns to sleep in her room, as she declared her
ills of nerves made it utterly impossible for
her to remain at night alone, a corpse being
in the house.
VOL. I. P
314 EVELYN HARCOURT.
After the funeral, she sent a message to
the old man, through one of her daughters,
offering to take her departure immediately
from Oriel, if more agreeable to him, (an offer
that had already been made in her name,
though without her knowledge, by her brother)
but Mr. Eridge returned her a kind answer,
saying that it never could be his wish to part
from any of his own family ; and, under his
present heavy bereavement, the more he Avas
surrounded by them, the more welcome it
would be to him. It was a pleasure to have
his dear grandsons (who had been sent for)
with him, and he was getting quite fond of
the girls. As for Frederic Percy, he did not
know how he should ever part with him ! —
He hoped they would all stay as long as they
possibly could — the longer the better I
Mrs. Harry was very well pleased to stay.
She was just now composing a French novel,
which was to set Paris in a flame, and at the
same time replenish her empty pockets ; — and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 3 1 5
till this was completed, it was highly expedient
that she should continue to live free of expense.
She should certainly stay, till she had married,
or in some other way disposed of her heroine,
Anastasie Leopoldine Adoree Zephyrine de la
Saint Cyr Rochefoucault ! . . .
" And is it true that you are really going
on Monday, Captain Percy ?" inquired Helen,
timidly, and without raising her eyes ; — '' so
" Alas ! too true. Miss Bridge," replied he ;
— " I had settled to go to-day, but your dear
old grandfather pressed — nay, almost forced
me to stay, and I was but too willing to be
" Grandpapa will miss you very, very much.
I cannot think what he will do without you."
There was a short pause. She felt his eyes
were upon her, and she blushed.
" And will no one else miss me ?" he said
316 EVELYN HARCOURT.
at length, in a low, agitated voice. " Shall
you feel no regret at parting, after the time
we have spent — the scenes we have witnessed
She blushed yet more deeply —
" I shall indeed miss you," she said in a
trembling voice; — "I must be worse than
heartless — I must be ungrateful not to do so.
....I shall indeed miss you...."
" Bless you a thousand times for those
words !" cried he, tenderly ; '* they do indeed
comfort me. Oh, Helen ! dearest Helen ! hear
me for once — hear me now ! How long, how
ardently, have I not pined to tell you what was
in my heart ! And though it is in vain — though
I know it is presumption — madness — to speak
to you as I am doing, yet can I not refrain
from telling you how fondly, how passion-
ately you are worshipped — that to win your
love, were I but worthy of you, would be ... .
nay, turn not away from me ! tell me at least
that you forgive this rashness — my idolatry
EVELYN HARCOURT. 317
— that you will think of me with indulgence,
even if . . . ."
'* Can you doubt it ?" murmured Heleu
He seized her hand, which yielded unre-
sistingly to his grasp.
" Helen, can it be possible? do you not
deceive me ? , . .Would you be mine ? ray very
own ? . . . Poor as I am — with nothing, not
even a home to offer you — nothing but love
such as no words can express . . . !"
There was a moment's pause ; and the hearts
of both beat wildly — the one with expectation
amounting to agony — the other, with many
and conflicting emotions.
" I would !" said Helen, at length ; — and
there was nothing of doubt nor of hesitation
in her manner, " I would indeed link my fate
with yours, were it not . . . ."
But in vain she struggled to continue ! He
heard but the first words, and she found
herself clasped to that noble heart, which
3 1 8 EVELYN HARCOURT.
had long ago given itself unreservedly to
" Nay, hear me ! hear me !" she cried,
struggling though but feebly to disengage
herself, " Frederic, dear Frederic, hear me !"
" Bless you for those sweet vsrords . . . !"
" I cannot — I never will leave my grand-
father — how could I, when he is so afflicted V
There was a pause of a few moments.
Frederic's countenance fell.
" Not now, perhaps ! but after a time —
Surely . . . ,"
" I could not leave the dear old man with-
out some one to watch over him — to minister
to him in his declining years. Think what he
has lost ! Evelyn is away, and she may never
return — or she may marry. — Oh, Frederic !
he has cherished me from childhood, and I
cannot desert him now ! You could not wish
me to do so."
" And will you never be mine, then, Helen ?
— Alas ! you cannot really love me."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 319
" Do not grieve me by such words," she
cried, in a broken voice — " Oh Frederic, be
generous ! Help me against myself — against
my own weakness. — Do not make my trial
harder by doubting me. Have I not con-
*' You have — you have ! — You do love me !
— Tell me so but once more, and I will bear
all — any thing you wish, and think right. I
will leave you to-morrow, if you like."
" Alas ! if you knew how my heart sinks
at the idea of your going, you would not
doubt my love ! I require all my strength to
bear up against it — all my...."
The door opened, and Mrs. Harry entered,
with a species of white dressing-gown loosely
thrown around her person, looped up at
various points with what she was pleased to
call " des agraffes'" — in reality brooches com-
posed of Scotch pebbles. She had on a pair
of black silk stockings, and her hair was what
she called " epars " on her shoulders.
320 EVELYN HARCOURT.
^'Ahfa /" cried she ; " I am in convulsion !
Je viens de tuer une jeune fille, et un enfant
en has age V
" What are you talking ahout, sister?" ex-
claimed Frederic, very impatiently, for he
was provoked beyond endurance at the inter-
" Ah ! they suffer torments unknown ! A
carriage smash them in the great road ! break
the arm and knock out the teeth of the young
person, and cut the child in three piece —
Ah I mais c^est inoui /.. ."
" Heavens ! let us send assistance !" cried
Helen, rushing to the bell. " When did it
happen ? — where are they V
" Where are they ! Mais, par exemple,
they are in my room, Ici Jiaut, I kill them
upstairs in de chintz turret. Le cceur de
cette jeune personne avoit trop tot parte ! —
But what is this? // 7ne semble que vous
pleurez ! — What is it you do together in this
EVELYN HARCOURT. 321
" Do not give yourself any uneasiness about
that, sister," returned Frederic, abruptly.
** You had better go and kill some more
women and children in the chintz tur-
" No ; I make Anastasie Leopoldine live !
She marry Victor Alphonse de Saint Amedee,
and have twins fine as the day — beaux comme
le jour ! But / stay here ! I like to hear
" You will do no such thing, if you please,
sister. Miss Eridge and I do not wish our
"Ah ! ah ! you are talking to her of love,
I imagine myself! Cest-il clair, pa V
" Whatever I am talking about, it does not
concern you. Sister, sister, do not provoke
"Nay, Frederic," gently interposed Helen,
" do not let us treat Mrs. Eridge with such
want of confidence. Why should we conceal
from her what she has a right to know ? I
322 EVELYN HARCOURT.
am sure she will enter into ray feelings, and
" Ah ! what is all that galimatias f "
" The truth is, sister, since you must know
it, that I have proposed to Miss Eridge,
" He has not been refused !" said Helen,
But she was cut short by a perfect torrent
" You propose to this young person ! Ah !
but it is absolutely unknown! — this young
person, that have not the penny — that
make tea in the saloon ! But I won't
suffer it. No ! my word of honour, it shan't
do itself! Ah petite morveuse, vous avez
*' Silence !" cried Frederic, passionately ;
but Mrs. Harry was not to be silenced.
" You dare to make yourself his promised !
to think of espousing him ! Ah ! my ills of
nerves ! ah !...."
EVELYN HARCOURT. 323
" You had better go, Helen !" said Frederic.
" Leave her to me. Send her daughters here,
my love, if you can find them, and leave us to-
" Be gentle with her, Frederic," whispered
Helen. *' Do not let her provoke you. She
cannot part us, you know — she cannot alter
our hearts to each other. For my sake, be
Frederic found it no easy matter, however,
to be forbearing, even for her sake. The
scene that followed baffles all description.
Never had Mrs. Eridge yielded to the im-
pulses of her ungovernable temper in the pre-
sence of her brother as she did on this occa-
sion. She abused him — she argued — she en-
treated ; and when entreaties proved vain,
she had recourse to threats. Still, he re-
mained unmoved. He answered quietly that
nothing could alter his determination. " His
heart had long been Helen's ; and, whether
she became his wife or not, hers it should ever
324 EVELYN HARCOURT.
continue. None but she should ever receive
his faith or his hand !"
At length, when the lady had fairly ex-
hausted her invectives, she had recourse to
those faithful and long-tried friends, her nerves.
Hysteric succeeded to hysteric — foiblesse to
foiblesse, but still the obdurate Frederic
showed no symptom of relenting. Finding
that her daughters did not appear, he quietly
rang the bell; and, when the servant an-
swered it, desired that Mrs. Harry's maid
should be summoned ; — and no sooner had
she made her appearance, than he delivered
his shrieking sister into her charge, and him-
self very composedly left the room.
When he was fairly out of hearing, Mrs.
Harry began to recover surprisingly. She
reflected that much might yet be done to
prevent this hateful alliance. The girl her-
self might perhaps be influenced ; and, at
any rate, the consent of the grandfather had
yet to be obtained. Now, it was not very
EVELYN HARCOURT. 325
likely lie would give it easily ; for, indepen-
dently of any dislike of his own to losing
Helen, it was a match he could hardly ap-
prove in any way. Frederic, though not so
totally unprovided for as his brothers and
sisters, had still but a mere pittance besides
his pay, for his liberality to his own family
had of course prevented his ever saving any-
thing. His regiment too had only just gone
to Canada, where it would remain some years,
and he had no future prospects — no expecta-
tions whatever. Mr. Eridge never could con-
sent to such a marriage — it was impossible !
Acting, as she always did, on the impulse
of the moment, Mrs. Harry sprang from the
sofa, and, hastily re-arranging the folds of the
drapery around her person, darted at once to
the private room of her father-in-law.
The poor old man was seated at his writing-
desk, engaged in a melancholy though not an
unpleasing occupation. He was reading over
some of the letters he had at various times
326 EVELYN HARCOURT.
received from his lost wife. The collection
was a small one, for this faithful and primitive
couple had been but rarely separated during
their married life ; but the few letters that
he did possess spoke volumes for the tender-
ness of that love, of which her whole life had
been one abiding proof.
The old man was so absorbed in this occu-
pation, that he did not hear Mrs. Harry's
agitated tap at the door. It was, however,
so impatiently repeated, that he started, the
letter fell from his hand ; and before he had
time to remove his spectacles and wipe away
the drops that had gathered to his eyelids, the
unwelcome figure of his daughter-in-law pre-
She dashed into the room and subject at
once. Without the smallest preparation, and,
strange to say, with very little interlarding of
French, she informed the old man of what
she termed the shameful conduct of her bro-
ther and Miss Bridge. She inveighed against
EVELYN HARCOURT. 327
their slyness in having carried on a private
understanding so long, and even during " the
late melancholy circumstances, without any
one suspecting it ; and appealed to Mr.
Bridge, whether it were a marriage that ought
to be permitted !
"As for Frederic, his family had other
views for him — they all looked to him to
build up again his impoverished race. Ad-
mired, sought, run after as he was, they all
looked to him to make a brilliant, and, above
all, a wealthy alliance. And, as for Miss
Helen, who that cared for her could wish to
see her banished to a distant country — ex-
posed to poverty, trial, and privations of all
kinds — she, who had been brought up in the
very lap of luxury? She would probably
starve in Canada, with three or four children
en has age, and it would kill her dear old
grandfather to hear of it !"
Her dear old grandfather, though not killed
by such melancholy prospects, was certainly
3*28 EVELYN HARCOURT.
struck dumb by the torrent of eloquence
that poured with such resistless fury from Mrs.
Harry's lips. He was unable to follow the
rapidity of her reasoning or of her invectives,
yet he contrived to gather something of the
matter in hand from what fell from her. He
saw that she was angry — that she thought
her brother had behaved infamously ; though
in what manner, unless it were in loving
Helen (a very natural and excusable crime, in
Mr. Bridge's opinion), he was at a loss to
In the mean time, he listened to all that
the angry lady had to say with an attention
that convinced her she had gained her point.
And under this consoling impression she gra-
dually calmed herself, and, resuming her
French manner and phraseology, swept out of
the room, to introduce into her novel an in-
teresting and graphic description of two
lovers parted by a tyrannical and cruel father,
and driven in despair to elope from his house.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 329
Et ma fille, en un mot, tu peux I'aimer, et me plaire.
Say what thou canst, Til go along with thee.
As You Like it.
" Yes, mj children, be happy !" said the
old man, wipin<r away a tear that was stealing
down his furrowed cheek, for he was thinking
of one who would have rejoiced to see that
day — " be happy ! God has given you to each
other, for he has made you to love one another;
and it were ingratitude to reject such a bles-
sing as this mutual love and trust shall be to
you both through life."
As he spoke, he laid his venerable hand on
Helen's head, and gently stroked her long,
" God be with you, my dear !" said he ;
330 EVELYN HARCOURT.
"you have been a good child to me, and you
will be a good wife to him, no doubt .... And
you, sir, be kind and tender to her ; for she
has led a happy life till now "
Helen looked up in his face, and her eyes
swam with tears.
" I have no fear of him !" said she...." But,
dear grandpapa, how can you ever go with us
— all that way?"
" My dear, I will go, if you do not think
me too old and troublesome ! It will cheer
my latter days to see you happy ; and as for
the old place, it is become sad to me now — it
speaks to me as yet too forcibly of her! In
time, no doubt, in time, this recollection will
wear off, and then But it will be young
Harry's before long, at any rate, so let him
live at it before it becomes his own, and learn
to love it as I did, when I was young as he !"
It was even so ! The old man had sought
out Frederic Percy immediately after Mrs.
Harry's disclosures, and applied to him for an
EVELYN HARCOURT. 331
explanation of her strange conduct and her
violence. Frederic frankly confessed the
whole — his own love, how earnest, how un-
changeable; his recent conversation with
Helen, and her admission that he was not
wholly indifferent to her. Then came the
only obstacle — for Frederic would not admit
of any other — and after considerable difficulty
and many questions, the old man at length
succeeded in worming out of him that that
obstacle was no other than himself. His child
would not be induced to leave him — not even
to marry the man she loved !
His resolution was almost immediately
taken ; — he would go with them, even across
the Atlantic. He would not mar their hap-
piness — he would rather increase it. His in-
come should assist their straitened means ;
where they went, he would go — their country
should henceforth be his country — and their
home his home !
They hesitated long — they felt it was such
S32 EVELYN HARCOURT.
a hard thing to draw him from his own tran-
quil fireside to a distant land, where no face
would meet his eye but the face of strangers
— no hand be stretched forth to welcome the
beloved of many hearts. They thought of his
bereavement — his advanced years — his fond-
ness for his ancestral trees — for the abode of
his forefathers — and their hearts smote them !
But he would listen to no objections, to no re-
monstrances — he had taken his resolution. If
they would bear with his infirmities, if they
would not consider him too great a burden, he
would go with them. He could always return
again, if the climate disagreed with him, or if
he felt a wish to see the old place once more.
They saw he was determined ; so they
ceased to combat his resolution. He had evi-
dently set his heart on this marriage, and
would allow no impediment that could be set
aside, to prevent, or even postpone it. And,
after all, there was still an interval — a breath-
inof-time, before Frederic must leave his native
EVELYN HARCOURT. 333
land ; and who could tell what might not in-
tervene to prevent the necessity of his leaving
it at all ? In short, they were ready enough
to hope even against probability, since to do
so was favourable to the fulfilment of their
wishes — and to believe that the old man only
spoke the truth when he assured them in the
fulness of his heart that it was their bounden
duty to marry, if only for his sake.
Mrs. Harry was perfectly thunderstruck at
the intelligence that now burst upon her, not
only of the cordial consent of Mr. Eridge to
her brother's suit, but of his determination to
accompany the young couple to Canada him-
self, whenever Frederic should be compelled
to join his regiment there.
It were vain to attempt to describe the
scenes, the attaques de nerfs and foiblesses,
that ensued upon the shock of this announce-
ment, so very different a denouement from
what she had expected would result from her
impressive and eloquent communications to
334 EVELYN HARCOURT.
her " respectable heau-pere'' That he must
be mad to sanction so foolish and imprudent a
connexion, there could not be a doubt ; but,
unfortunately, she was utterly powerless to
control or oppose either his madness or that
of her brother, who it was very evident was
determined to take his own course in the
matter, without reference or deference to her
feelings. All she coald do, therefore, was to
make a point of looking as cross and melan-
choly as possible, whilst the rest of the family
were rejoicing at the happy prospects of the
lovers ; and to scold her unfortunate daugh-
ters from morning till night, for daring to be
glad that their favourite Miss Eridge was to
become their aunt !
A discovery, however, which she made
shortly afterwards, tended in some measure to
alter her views, and to induce her to think
that she had better change her tone somewhat
upon the subject of this marriage. It appeared
that Helen, whom she had always believed to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 335
be without a penny, was in reality entitled
to no inconsiderable portion, after all. She
would have rather more than twenty thousand
pounds, either on her own coming of age, or
on her grandfather's death, whichever event
happened first. This sum was the accumula-
tion of her father's savings, for the whole of
his landed property had been entailed away
from her ; which circumstance, having been
known to occasion him very great annoyance
during his lifetime, had perhaps naturally
enough given rise to the impression that his
daughter was unprovided for. Certain it was
that even Helen herself had not till now been
aware of the extent of her own fortune ; and
delightful indeed was it to a noble and devoted
spirit like hers to be able to bestow it all
upon her lover, who, had he possessed ten
thousand times as much, would, she well knew,
have too gladly laid the whole at her feet.
And now, but for him, this money would have
been valueless in her eyes ; but, for his sake,
336 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and as facilitating their union, it did indeed
at once acquire an inestimable value.
This news, which was quite as unexpected
to Frederic himself as to Mrs. Eridge, cer-
tainly did wonders in altering the conduct
and views of that lady respecting the contem-
plated alliance. She began to think that she
had been somewhat too hasty in her judg-
ments, and that it was not so very bad a parti
for her brother, after all. Twenty thousand
pounds was a good round sum ; and the young
person was '^fraiche, rondelette, et d'une taille
enchanter esse. Ses yeuw^fendus en amande,
etoient ravissans d' amour et de volupte, et il
y avoit une noblesse infinie dans la coupe de
son nez, et le contour de sa tete /" In short,
she was capable of being made almost any-
thing of — perhaps even a femme elegante in
the end... .if she would but abandon herself to
the instructions of her future sister-in-law,
and, above all, for ever give up the abominable
custom of making tea in the saloon.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 337
From that time, Mrs. Harry began to treat
*' la jeune Bridge " with infinitely more de-
ference and attention than she had ever done
before ; and even condescended to inform her
that she had put her into her novel under the
name of Desiree Hortenfie Celestine Cherie
de Id Sablonniere Morian, jeune personne tres
distinguee, d'une figure ravissante, et d'mi
caractere angelique, dont le cceur avoit dejd
parle avec force.'"
There was nothing connected with her en-
gagement that gave Helen more unmixed de-
light than to be able to announce it to Evelyn,
which she did the very day it was actually
entered into. She counted the days before
her letter could be received with the most
eager impatience. Now, at least, Evelyn's
unjust suspicions, her unreasonable jealousy,
would have an end — now, she must acknow-
ledge that she had been blinded by passion
and prejudice, and she would once more re-
store her confidence and her affection to the
VOL. I. Q
338 EVELYN HARCOURT.
friend of her early youth. Oh, what a de-
lightful thought for Helen, who had actually
drooped under the consciousness of their
estrangement, like a flower that pines for the
soft airs and cheering light of heaven !
Of course, no obstacles were thrown in the
way of the marriage by any of Frederic Percy's
relations. They were overjoyed at the pro-
spect of his connecting himself so advantage-
ously, and congratulations and good wishes
poured in from all quarters. He wrote to
petition for an extension of leave, which in
due time was granted, and everything now
conspired to minister to the happiness of that
delicious breathing-time, the period of court-
ship — a period often of more exquisite enjoy-
ment than any other, for then happiness
unspeakable is attained, yet happiness still
greater is in store, to long for and aspire to !
END OF VOL. I.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
3 0112 045852057